Cancer Types | Blood Cancer - National Foundation for Cancer Research

Blood Cancers

Blood Cancers

There are three main types of blood cancers. Leukemia is a cancer found in your blood and bone marrow, lymphoma is a blood cancer that affects the lymphatic system and myeloma is a blood cancer that specifically targets plasma cells. Each year, these types of cancer account for approximately 10% of all new cancer diagnoses.

Key Facts

  • An estimated 186,400 new cases of leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2021, with 57,750 deaths expected to result from the diagnosis.
  • Every three minutes, one person in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer.
  • Leukemias are the most common cancers in children and account for 28% of all childhood cancers.
  • More than 1.2 million people in the U.S. are either living with or in remission today from a blood cancer.
Source: American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures 2021 and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Signs and Symptoms

A symptom is a change in the body that a person can see and/or feel. A sign is a change that the doctor sees during an examination or on a laboratory test result. If you have any of the symptoms below, it does not mean you have cancer but you should see your doctor or health care professional so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.


  • Feeling tired, weak, dizzy or lightheaded
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pale skin
  • Bruises (or small red or purple spots) on the skin
  • Bleeding, such as frequent or severe nosebleeds, bleeding gums, or heavy menstrual bleeding in women
  • Swelling in the face, neck, arms, and upper chest (sometimes with a bluish-red color)
  • Weight loss; Loss of appetite
  • Fever; Night sweats
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Infections that don’t go away or keep coming back


  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Drenching night sweats
  • Fever without an infection
  • Weight loss
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Shortness of breath or cough
  • Severe or frequent infections
  • Swollen abdomen (belly)
  • Feeling full after only a small meal
  • Easy bruising or bleeding


  • Persistent or worsening tiredness
  • Recurrent unexplained infections (such as pneumonia, sinus infection, or urinary tract infection)
  • Back pain or any bone pain that is persistent or recurrent
  • Swelling of the extremities
  • Shortness of breath
Source: American Cancer Society’s website and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society website 2021
Blood Cancer Location
estimated new cases in 2021
expected deaths in 2021
% of all childhood cancers
Blood Cancers Awareness Ribbon

Blood Cancer Awareness Month is recognized in September. To help accelerate cures please make a gift today.

Researchers Working on Blood Cancer

Curt Civin, M.D.
Curt Civin, M.D.
Michael B. Sporn, M.D.
Michael B. Sporn, M.D.
Cesare Spadoni, Ph.D.
Cesare Spadoni, Ph.D.
Wei Zhang, Ph.D.
Wei Zhang, Ph.D.

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