5 Myths of Blood Cancer

Posted October 15, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 3 min read

Leukemia, a type of blood cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow, is one of the most well-known types of cancer. Still, there are many different myths and misconceptions floating around about this cancer.

Myth: There is only one type of blood cancer, i.e. leukaemia.


  • No

  • There are many types of blood cancers, including leukaemia, a disease that is generally more familiar to the public.

  • There are some that arise from the bone marrow, such as acute leukaemia (lymphoid and myeloid types), myeloproliferative neoplasm (e.g. essential thrombocythaemia and primary myelofibrosis) and multiple myeloma.

  • And other types arise from the lymph node glands, such as lymphoma, which itself has many different subtypes.

Myth: Leukaemia is a childhood disease.


  • No, leukaemia does not exclusively occur in children.

  • In fact, there are higher incidents of this blood cancer among senior citizens.

  • However, certain types of leukaemia are more frequent in certain age groups.

  • For example, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia has a higher incidence in young children.

  • Three-quarter of these cases involve children who are less than six years old.

  • Acute myeloid leukaemia however, occurs most frequently in adults who are more than 60 years of age, with the median age of such patients being 65 years old.

  • It is not common in children, accounting for less than 15% of acute leukaemia in this age group.

Myth: There is no cure for blood cancer, so all hope is lost upon diagnosis. Although a diagnosis of blood cancer is devastating, the notion that there is no cure for cancer is unfounded.


  • With the advancement of cancer research and drug development, we are now better at understanding this disease, including its causes, origins, pattern of development and mechanisms.

  • Hence, we now have improved approaches and strategies in managing cancer.

  • Blood cancers are generally sensitive to treatment, be it targeted therapy, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

  • Therefore, for most cancer patients, there are always treatment options to be offered.

  • In fact, certain types of blood cancers have high remission rates, e.g. Hodgkin’s lymphoma and acute promyelocytic leukaemia.

  • The remission rates of these cancers can be as high as over 80% with well-tolerated therapy.

Myth: If you have blood cancer, your skin turns pale.


  • The symptoms and signs of blood cancer can come in a variety of forms, depending on the type of cancer.

  • Pale skin normally indicates anaemia.

  • Anaemia is caused by low haemoglobin levels, which may be a sign of bone marrow failure.

  • Bone marrow failure is a symptom of blood cancer.

  • There are numerous signs and symptoms of blood cancer, including easy bruising, recurrent fever, weight loss, night sweats and enlarged glands.

  • Having said that, pale skin due to anaemia can also be caused by other non-cancerous illnesses.

  • Thus, it would be best to see a doctor for a proper investigation before jumping to conclusions as to what the illness may be.

  • Signs and symptoms have to be taken into context based on a proper medical history, physical examination and blood tests.

  • And they need to be assessed and treated by a medical professional, not through self-diagnosis or self-medication.

Myth: All blood cancer patients need a bone marrow transplant.


  • Not true.

  • As a matter of fact, the majority of blood cancer patients have no need of a bone marrow transplant.

  • Most patients will be treated with combined and risk-adapted therapy, which may include targeted therapy, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.

  • Of course, there are certain types of blood cancers, e.g. acute myeloid leukaemia, that will require a bone marrow transplant.

  • As this is such an intensive treatment, this course will be discussed at length between the patient, the patient’s family and the doctor.

  • If you are experiencing any possible symptoms of blood cancer, speak to our hemotologist for any professional advice and enquiries.

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