Friday 28 May is World Blood Cancer day.
Blood cancer is a type of cancer that affects blood cells. Over 40,000 people are diagnosed with a blood cancer each year in the UK, and over 250,000 people are currently living with blood cancer.
All blood cancers are caused by changes (mutations) in DNA within blood cells. This causes the blood cells to start behaving abnormally. In almost all cases, these changes are linked to things that can’t be controlled.
There are some known risk factors such as:
- Family history
- Radiation or chemical exposure
- Some health conditions and treatments
How these factors affect risk depends on the type of blood cancer.
Blood cancer symptoms vary depending on the type of blood cancer, whether it’s leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma, MDS, MPN or any other blood cancer. However, common symptoms include:
- Weight loss that is unexplained
- Bruising or bleeding that is unexplained
- Lumps or swellings
- Shortness of breath (breathlessness)
- Drenching night sweats
- Infections that are persistent, recurrent or severe
- Fever (38°C or above) that is unexplained
- Rash or itchy skin that is unexplained
- Pain in your bones, joints or abdominal
- Tiredness that doesn’t improve with rest or sleep (fatigue)
- Unusually pale complexion (pallor)
Treatment for blood cancer can include Chemotherapy, Stem cell transplant, Immunotherapy Medication, Radiotherapy and Surgery
How can you help?
Dig out anything red you own – clothes, a handbag, lipstick or a headband perhaps! Take lots of photos and share this on social media with the hashtag #wbcd or #wearitred. This helps raise awareness.
There is a wealth of ideas to help raise money for research into blood cancer. Maybe you are sporty and would like to do a bike ride, marathon or cycle. Perhaps you are really adventurous and would like to trek up Mount Kilimanjaro!
Maybe your skills lie in organising events such as a cake bake, music night or a quiz. Bloodcancer.org.uk has lots of ideas and resources to help you plan your fundraising event.
Become a Donor
You could be someone’s second chance at life.
4 out of 10 people looking for an unrelated matching donor worldwide are not able to find a match.
DKMS are an organisation that helps identify people who are a match through their blood stem cell donation work. This involves giving a swab from the inside of your cheeks to be added to their global register! If you are a match, then you can help. In 90% of cases, stem cells are collected peripherally (apheresis). This involves taking stem cells directly from the bloodstream. You’ll be able to have this done as an outpatient and it does not require surgery. Alternatively, in 10% of cases, the stem cells are collected from the back of your pelvic bone. This is carried out under general anaesthetic. The person will then receive your donated blood stem cells and you can help someone have a second chance at life. How amazing is that!
For more information on Blood Cancer, research and fundraising: