Blood cancers have one thing in common, in that they’re systemic, rather than attack a specific organ in the body. They develop in the bone marrow or lymphatic system, affecting the production and functioning of white blood cells or plasma cells. There are 3 main types of blood cancers – leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma – but also others, and together, blood cancers account for about 10% of all new cancer diagnoses each year. While medical science has come a long way in early detection and prevention of many other types of cancers, there are currently no screening tests for blood cancers, leaving many people unaware there is or may be a problem until they experience symptoms.
Even though there are more than a dozen kinds of leukemia, there are four major types.
Acute leukemia has a rapid increase in the numbers of immature blood cells. There are two types:
Chronic leukemia is an overgrowth of mature white blood cells which are abnormal and occurs mostly in adults between the ages of 40 and 70. The main types are Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).
Myeloma is a type of cancer that affects white blood cells. Specifically, it affects the plasma cells. Plasma cells create antibodies. These antibodies help a patient’s body find germs and fight off infection.
other blood cancers
Additionally, other blood diseases closely related to leukemia include:
Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) which is a condition where the bone marrow doesn’t produce enough normal blood cells. This can sometimes progress to acute leukemia.
Myeloproliferative disease (MPD) is a condition where the bone marrow makes too many blood cells. Sometimes this disease moves so slowly that you don’t need treatment and at other times it develops into AML.
Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia (WM) is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in which the cancer cells make large amounts of an abnormal protein (called a macroglobulin).