7 Facts You Need to Know About Blood Cancers - NFCR


7 Facts You Need to Know About Blood Cancers

Note: This article was originally published on 9/13/2017 and has since been updated by NFCR Writers William Werkmeister and Brittany Ciupka

Blood cancers form in the bone marrow where blood is made or in the lymphatic system which protects us from infections.


  • More than 1.3 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 28% of all childhood cancers. An estimated 178,520 new cases of leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2020, with 56,840 deaths expected to result from the diagnosis.
  • With these cancers continuing to affect the lives of so many people, it is important to understand the disease and what we can do to improve our chances of beating it.

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. Make sure you read about the NFCR-funded research work of Dr. Curt Civin and Dr. Michael Sporn focused on blood cancers.

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 178,520 people will be diagnosed with a blood cancer this year. Of these cases, 34% will be diagnosed with a leukemia, 48% 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 Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, 66% of people diagnosed with leukemia live five years or longer. That rate climbs to 75% for non-Hodgkin lymphoma and 89% for Hodgkin lymphoma.

 3. Every 9 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies from a blood cancer.

Of the almost 606,520 people are who expected to die from cancer this year, 56,840 or 9.4%, 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
  • Bone/joint pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Swollen lymph nodes, liver and spleen
  • Anemia

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).
  • 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.

7. NFCR-Funded Scientists Dr. Curt Civin and Dr. Michael Sporn are Making Great Strides in Blood Cancer Research

Dr. Curt Civin is, perhaps, most famous for his work in the area of bone marrow stem cell transplantation. This transplantation technique, in which Dr. Civin played a key, early role, is partially responsible for the significant increase in Leukemia survival rates. His current work continues to make a difference in the lives of blood cancer patients. Dr. Civin recently discovered that artemisinins – a class of drugs with low toxicity used to successfully treat malaria – are also effective in killing AML cancer cells, one of the deadliest forms of Leukemia.

Dr. Sporn conducted research on Fenrentinide, and proved its efficacy in treating several cancers. However, Fenrentinide is poorly soluble in water, requiring it to be delivered at dangerous dosing levels to be effective. The NFCR AIM-HI Translational Research Initiative is currently funding a startup company, SciTech, which has reformulated Fenrentinide to render it more water-soluble, and therefore, effective for the human treatment of cancers.

Please show your support by spreading awareness AND by taking action against the disease. Support cancer research.

Additional Reads You May Enjoy:

Hodgkin’s & Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: What’s the Difference?

Multiple Myeloma: A Rare But Very Real Cancer

Sarah’s Story: Dr. Civin’s Cancer Research “Saved My Life”