Blood cancers form in the bone marrow where blood is made or in the lymphatic system which protects us from infections.
- Blood cancers account for almost 10% of new cancer cases in the U.S. each year.
- More than 1.2 million people in the U.S. are either living with or in remission today from a blood cancer.
- Leukemias are the most common cancers in children and account for about 30% of all childhood cancers.
- In 2017, an estimated 58,300 people are expected to die as a result of a blood cancer.
With these cancers continuing to affect the lives of so many people, it’s important to understand the disease and what we can do to improve our chances of beating it.
Here’s a list of seven facts you need to know about blood cancers. And make sure you read about lymphoma survivor Sarah Byrd, who says she owes her life to NFCR-funded scientist Dr. Curt Civin.
1. Every three minutes, one person in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer.
Blood cancers affect both children and adults and account for almost 10% of new cancer cases in the U.S. each year. That means approximately 172,910 people will be diagnosed with a blood cancer this year. Of these cases, 36% will be diagnosed with a leukemia, 47% with a lymphoma and 18% with myeloma.
2. Survival rates have significantly improved in the last 20 years.
Decades of research have led to vastly improved outcomes for people with blood cancers. According to the National Institutes of Health, 63% of people diagnosed with leukemia live five years or longer. That rate climbs to 70% for non-Hodgkin lymphoma and 85.9% for Hodgkin lymphoma.
3. Every 9 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies from a blood cancer.
Of the almost 601,000 people are who expected to die from cancer this year, 58,300 or 9.7% will have been diagnosed with a blood cancer. Despite the progress we’ve made in the fight against blood cancer, there is still much work we need to do.
4. There are no effective screening tests for the early detection of blood cancers.
Screening tests like mammograms for breast cancer and colonoscopies for colorectal cancer can help with the early detection and prevention of these cancers. Although scientists are researching ways to prevent or detect all cancers at their earliest stages, nothing exists for blood cancers at this time. As a result, people don’t typically know something is wrong until they experience symptoms.
5. …But there are warning signs.
Common blood cancer symptoms include:
- Fever, chills
- Persistent fatigue, weakness
- Loss of appetite, nausea
- Unexplained weight loss
- Night sweats
- Bone/joint pain
- Abdominal discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent infections
- Itchy skin or skin rash
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarms or groin
Talk to your doctor right away if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
6. There are three main types of blood cancers.
- Leukemia is a type of cancer found in your blood and bone marrow and affects your white blood cells. Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is the most common form of childhood leukemia, and acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is the second most common. The two most common adult leukemias are AML and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).
- About half of the blood cancers that occur each year are lymphomas, or cancers of the lymphatic system. There are two types of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
- Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells, which are a type of white blood cell made in the bone marrow. Myeloma cells prevent the normal production of antibodies, leaving your body’s immune system weakened and susceptible to infection. Because myeloma frequently occurs at many sites in the bone marrow, it is often referred to as multiple myeloma.
35year old Sarah Bryd lives in Atlanta and is now five years in remission from non-Hodgkin Lymphoma because of a bone marrow stem cell transplant made possible by Dr. Civin’s work decades before. “It saved my life,” says Sarah, who at one point was in so much pain she begged her doctors to put her in a coma. Thanks to Dr. Civin’s research, today she is not just surviving, but thriving. Read Sarah’s inspirational story.
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