About Blood Cancer
What is leukaemia?
Leukaemia is a cancer of blood cells
and is mostly found circulating in your bloodstream. Over 3300 Australians are diagnosed each year and it can occur in people of any age. Leukaemia is the most common form of childhood cancer, and in this group takes 2-3 years to treat. We do not know what causes most forms of leukaemia. Many acute leukaemias can be treated successfully, and almost all chronic leukaemias are currently considered incurable.
What is lymphoma?
Lymphoma is a cancer of blood cells that are found mostly in the lymphatic system. Lymphomas are the most common form of blood cancer and there are 43 known subtypes of the disease. It is diagnosed
in over 5000 Australians each year. Aggressive forms of the disease can usually be treated successfully, although indolent forms are considered incurable.
What is myeloma?
Myeloma is a cancer of blood cells that are found mostly in the bones and bone marrow. It affects over 1500 Australians each year and is mainly found in older adults. Myeloma is currently considered incurable, requires multiple treatments over long periods of time, and often requires a stem cell transplant.
What are related blood disorders?
There are a number of rarer conditions that are considered cancer or cancer-like, and others that constitute bone marrow failure. These include MDS, MPN and aplastic anaemia.
How is blood cancer treated?
Treatment can include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapies, bone marrow or stem cell transplants or
a combination of these. On average, treatment lasts for about eight months.
What are the side-effects of treatment?
The side-effects of treatment aren’t pleasant. They may include: infection, anaemia, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite, frequent bowel motions, mouth ulcers, pain when swallowing, taste alteration, constipation and hair loss. Even after enduring the harrowing treatments for a blood cancer,
survivors may be susceptible to life-long complications such as infertility, organ damage, memory and learning problems, a higher incidence of secondary cancers, skin problems, and also face the possibility of the disease recurring.