September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month
Blood cancer is one of the most common types of cancer; more than 40,000 people are diagnosed in the UK alone each year, and currently more than 250,000 UK people are living with a blood cancer diagnosis. For a cancer that is developed by 1 in every 16 men and 1 in every 22 women, people seem to know surprisingly little about it or the symptoms to look out for. By educating yourself on how to recognise blood cancers, you will be contributing in a major way to the fight against these diseases.
Each of the trillions of cells that make up your body are constantly dying and being replaced. This is how your blood, organs, and bones repair themselves when damaged. Blood cancers are caused by changes (mutations) in DNA within the cells, which cause the cells to behave abnormally, stopping your body’s healthy cells from functioning properly. These blood cell mutations may cause the cell to divide too quickly, or not die when it should, which can result in blood cancer. This affects your body’s ability to deal with illness and infections.
Blood cancer symptoms are broad and can be difficult to identify, with many signs and symptoms easily attributable to other conditions. The main symptoms may include weight loss, unexplained bruising or bleeding, lumps or swellings, shortness of breath (breathlessness), drenching night sweats, and prolonged fever. There are many types of blood cancers and symptoms can vary between them. Each cancer type, which include leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma, myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) has its own treatment protocols and prognosis. Blood cancers are not genetic so you can’t pass them onto your children and, unlike many other cancers, are not linked to diet and lifestyle.
If you would like more information about blood cancers, are looking for support, or want to know how you can help in the drive to increase awareness, head over to Blood Cancer UK