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Let’s talk about blood cancer

It's Blood Cancer Awareness Month throughout September and we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the stats and symptoms in case they’re helpful to anyone reading.

We are not doctors, and all of this information is in the public domain, but if we hope that in sharing it, it could help someone to get a diagnosis a little earlier.

Blood cancer statistics

There are multiple different types of blood cancer, all of which affect the body's blood cells. Blood cancer in general is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, with over 41,000 people being diagnosed with it every year. There are about 250,000 people living with blood cancer in the UK. One in every 16 men and one in every 22 women will develop it at some point in their lives. It is also the most common type of childhood cancer.

The five most common types of blood cancer are:

  • Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, or CLL
  • Myeloma
  • Chronic myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs)
  • Marginal zone lymphoma
  • Acute myeloid leukaemia, or AML

(Ref: Bloodcancer.org)

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Blood cancer symptoms

The symptoms of any cancer can be varied between one person and another. While most of the time symptoms are likely to be nothing serious, if you feel as though something isn't right it's always best to check with your doctor to put your mind at rest. That said, the most common symptoms of blood cancer include a combination of the following:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained bruising or bleeding
  • Lumps or swellings
  • Shortness of breath
  • Night sweats
  • Persistent or recurrent infections
  • Unexplained fever (37.5°C or above)
  • Unexplained rash or itchy skin
  • Pain in your bones, joints or abdomen
  • Tiredness that doesn’t improve with rest
  • Paleness, particularly when the skin under your lower eyelid looks white instead of pink

(Ref: Bloodcancer.org)

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Typical treatments for blood cancer

The sooner you have a diagnosis for blood cancer, the quicker you can begin treatment. The recommended treatment will depend on the type of blood cancer you have, your overall health and your personal choices.

Monitoring blood cancer

Sometimes, when people have a slow-growing blood cancer, the initial response is to monitor it. Sometimes there is no need for treatment at all. That's not the same as saying it can't be treated, it's when the cancer is not causing troubling symptoms and where doctors believe that treatment won't be of great benefit.

Chemotherapy for blood cancer

Chemotherapy is sometimes recommended to treat blood cancer, which can either be in the form of an intravenous drip or tablets and is generally offered in cycles.

Stem cell transplants for blood cancer

Stem cell transplants are sometimes offered to replace the ones in your body with new ones. Blood cells start out as stem cells and blood cancer happens where something goes wrong in their development. This treatment involves a high dose of chemotherapy to destroy existing blood cells before replacing bone marrow with healthy ones.

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Spa treatments and your cancer journey

All cancer treatments have their side effects that doctors will be able to offer advice on.

From our perspective, spas are certainly not going to fix all problems, but with properly trained spa therapists and the right products, they can help to ease some side effects of cancer treatments and to provide support on your cancer journey.

For example, the right type of massage has been shown to help ease pain, improve mood and help with sleeplessness. Meanwhile, products from brands like Jennifer Young help to ease some of the skincare side effects of cancer treatment.

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If you would like to find out more about spas where therapists are trained to provide the best support on your cancer journey, you can follow the link to our Safe Hands for Cancer experiences, or read more articles on this blog.

Read more about cancer support in UK spas

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