Blood Cancer

Blood cancers develop when normal blood cell production is reduced due to the uncontrolled growth of an abnormal blood cell


“Cancer of the blood” occurs when one of the types of blood cells, which are produced in our bone marrow (the soft tissue inside our bones) grow in an uncontrolled and abnormal way.1

There are three types of blood cells; red blood cells (which deliver oxygen to the body), white blood cells (which help fight infection and disease) and platelets (which help the blood to clot and therefore prevent us from bleeding). 1

Blood cancer accounts for around 10% of all cancers diagnosed each year. Lymphoma is the most commonly diagnosed blood cancer in Australia, and the sixth most common form of cancer.

When something is wrong with your blood, it can affect your overall health, and if left untreated symptoms commonly impact day to day life. A general practitioner will likely refer you to a Haematologist for diagnosis, treatment and management of your condition.

A Haematologist is a specialist doctor who treats blood-related disorders and cancers. Find out more about Icon’s haematologists.

Common types blood cancers

There are many different types of blood disorders and blood cancers. Common blood cancers include leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

Icon diagnose and treat all types of blood cancers, including:

  • Leukaemiapredominantly affects the white blood cells. There are different types of leukaemia, depending on what type of white blood cell is affected (either myeloid or lymphoid) and whether it is fast growing (acute) or relatively slow growing (chronic).7 Based on this simple categorisation, there are four types of leukaemia (see below), although in modern classification systems, leukaemia is split into many more sub-types:7
    • Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL)
    • Chronic lymphoblastic leukaemia (CLL)
    • Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)
    • Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML)


  • Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that describes cancers that originate in the lymphatic system, the cancer cells being derived from a cell called a lymphocyte, which is part of the immune system.10  There are two main types of lymphoma:8
    • Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) – is rarer than non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and accounts for less than 10% of all lymphoma cases in Australia.9
    • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) – accounts for approximately 90% of lymphomas


  • Myelomais a malignancy of the plasma cells, a specialised type of white blood cell that usually resides within the bone marrow. It is also known as multiple myeloma, plasma cell myeloma or myelomatosis with generally there being multiple sites of disease found at diagnosis.11

Frequently asked questions

How common is blood cancer?

The statistics for blood cancer vary depending on the type of blood cancer you have.

  • Leukaemia is estimated to be the 8th most commonly diagnosed cancer, with an estimated risk of dying from Leukaemia of 1 in 114 by 85 years.2
  • Lymphoma = estimated to be the 6th most commonly diagnosed cancer, with an estimated risk of dying from Lymphoma of 1 in 150 by 85 years.3
  • Myeloma = estimated to be the least common of blood cancers, with an estimated risk of dying from myeloma of 1 in 207 by 85 years.


For a full list of references, click here.
  1. Cancer Council. (2017). Blood Cancer. Retrieved on 28th March 2019 from https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/blood-cancers/
  2. Cancer Australia, Australian Government. (2019). Leukaemia statistics. Retrieved on 28th March 2019 from https://leukaemia.canceraustralia.gov.au/statistics
  3. Cancer Australia, Australian Government. (2019). Lymphoma statistics. Retrieved on 28th March 2019 from https://lymphoma.canceraustralia.gov.au/statistics
  4. Cancer Australia, Australian Government. (2017). What are the symptoms of Leukaemia? Retrieved on 2nd April 2019 from https://leukaemia.canceraustralia.gov.au/symptoms
  5. Cancer Australia, Australian Government. (2017). What are the symptoms of Lymphoma? Retrieved on 2nd April 2019 from https://lymphoma.canceraustralia.gov.au/symptoms
  6. Cancer Australia, Australian Government. (2018). What are the symptoms of myeloma? Retrieved on 2nd April from https://myeloma-cancer.canceraustralia.gov.au/symptoms
  7. Cancer Council. (2019). Retrieved on 2nd April 2019 from https://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/leukaemia.html
  8. Cancer Council (2019). Retrieved on 3rd April 2019 from https://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/lymphoma.html
  9. Cancer Council (2019). Hodgkin Lymphoma. Retrieved on 3rd April 2019 from https://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/lymphoma/hodgkin-lymphoma.html
  10. American Cancer Society (2018). What is Hodgkin Lymphoma? Retrieved on 3rd April 2019 from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/hodgkin-lymphoma/about/what-is-hodgkin-disease.html
  11. Cancer Council. (2019). Retrieved on 3rd April 2019 from https://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/myeloma.html

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