September is blood cancer awareness month.

To understand blood cancer, it is important to know it mainly affects the bone marrow, which is the soft inner part of bones where blood and blood cells are made.

The three main types of blood cells are:

  • red blood cells that carry oxygen from the lungs to every part of the body
  • white blood cells that help fight infection
  • platelets that help control bleeding.

In most blood cancers, the normal cell production is interrupted by uncontrolled growth of an abnormal type of blood cell. This can reduce the bone marrow’s ability to produce normal levels of other blood cells, which affects the way that the rest of the body works. Meanwhile, the abnormal cells spill out into the bloodstream.

As the abnormal blood cells build up in the blood, they can spread to the lymph glands (lymph nodes), spleen, liver, lungs and kidneys. Without treatment, many of the body’s key functions will be increasingly affected.

The three main groups of blood cancer are:


Cancer that originates in blood-forming tissue. It is named according to the type of white blood cell that is affected and whether it is fast growing (acute) or slow growing (chronic).

There are four types:


Cancer that develops in the lymphatic system from cells called lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infection.

There are two main types:


Myeloma is a cancer that begins in the blood’s plasma cells, a type of white blood cell that is made in the bone marrow.

FIND More information about blood cancer


For more information about blood cancers, their treatment and support for patients and families, download copies of the following resources: