Blood Cancer Awareness Month Spotlights Hematologic Cancers

Did you know September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month? This month, take the time to learn more about this disease, which impacts more than 1.3 million Americans currently living with or in remission from these malignancies.

Every three minutes someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer, which are the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S. Read on to learn more about these malignancies and how organizations are celebrating the month.

Learn More About Blood Cancer

The National Cancer Institute defines blood cancer as “cancer that begins in blood-forming tissue, such as the bone marrow, or in the cells of the immune system.” Celebrate Blood Cancer Awareness Month by learning a bit more about the three most common types of blood cancer: leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.

Information About Leukemia

Leukemia refers to cancer of the blood cells, and the type of leukemia depends on the type of cells impacted. This cancer is most frequent in adults aged >55 years, but it is also the most common pediatric cancer.

The type of leukemia depends on the blood cell impacted. The major types of leukemia are:

  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
  • Acute myeloma leukemia (AML)
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)

Symptoms vary across the different types of leukemia, but may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever or sweating
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Weight loss/loss of appetite
  • Petechiae (tiny red dots under the skin)

Leukemia can be diagnosed via many tools, including blood tests, bone marrow tests, and genetic tests. Treatments for leukemia include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplantation, and targeted therapy.

Information About Lymphoma

Another kind of blood cancer is lymphoma, which impacts the cells of the lymph system. There are two major types: Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

Advances in treatment have made it possible for patients with Hodgkin lymphoma to have a full recovery. For NHL, prognosis varies depending on the disease type.

NHL is caused by an abnormality in the white blood cells. Symptoms of NHL can include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes (painless)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Coughing, breathing issues, or chest pain
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Pain or swelling in the abdomen

Lymphoma is diagnosed via physical exam, blood test, chest radiography, and biopsy. Treatments for lymphoma include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, or therapy to remove proteins in the blood.

Information About Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells. This condition occurs when abnormal plasma cells form tumors in the bone or soft tissue. Multiple myeloma is more common among older patients and among African Americans. Symptoms of multiple myeloma may include:

  • Bone pain
  • Fractures
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent infections/fevers
  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination

Multiple myeloma is diagnosed via lab and imaging tests and a bone marrow biopsy. Treatments include chemotherapy, stem cell transplantation, radiation, or targeted therapies. Immunotherapies for multiple myeloma have recently gotten U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.

For more information on multiple myeloma, visit the Multiple Myeloma Knowledge Hub on DocWire for news on the latest research and expert interviews on topics like symptom management, clinical trials, and more.

Multiple Myeloma Knowledge Hub

Resources for Blood Cancer Awareness Month

To promote blood cancer awareness in the month of September, organizations have prepared special resources and events for patients with these cancers.

Social Worker Shares Advice for Watchful Waiting

To celebrate Blood Cancer Awareness Month, the organization CancerCare shared a video with advice for the “watchful waiting” period between blood cancer diagnosis and treatment. Watchful waiting is defined as “closely watching a patient’s condition but not giving treatment unless symptoms appear or change.” Watch below or on the CancerCare website.

Blood Cancer Awareness Events from LLS

In addition, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) is hosting the Turn It Red Campaign. All throughout Blood Cancer Awareness Month, iconic buildings and landmarks around the United States will “Turn it Red” to honor patients with blood cancer, including the U.S. Bank Town on 9/14, LAX Airport Pylons on 9/14 and 9/15, and the Santa Monica Ferris Wheel on 9/15.

LLS will also spend the month of September highlighting their work fighting blood cancers via social media. “We encourage our advocates and supporters to join in to help us reach as many people as possible,” writes LLS. Be sure to use the hashtag #FightBloodCancer to join in on the conversation!

Light it Red for Lymphoma

The Lymphoma Research Foundation is also celebrating this month by calling on buildings, landmarks, and homes to light up with red lights to promote conversations around blood cancer and lymphoma. Over a dozen international and national partners have agreed to light up for lymphoma and blood cancer awareness. The Foundation is also asking residential homes to celebrate with their own red lights! Learn more about the initiative.