Blood cancer

Blood cancer

If you’re feeling worried about potential symptoms, your GP practice will want to hear from you. Here you can read about the symptoms of blood cancer and what to expect when you’re getting checked. 

What is blood cancer?

‘Blood cancer’ is the term we use to describe the many different cancers that affect the blood, bone marrow, or lymphatic system. There are three main groups, and within each group there are different types.

  • Leukaemia – including acute, chronic, myeloid, and lymphocytic
  • Lymphoma – including Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin
  • Myeloma

What are the symptoms?

Each type of cancer has different treatments and prognoses. Symptoms also vary, and can be quite vague, but you may notice some of the following:

  • Persistently swollen lymph nodes (lumps in your neck, armpits or groins)
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss
  • Itching
  • Bruising
  • Recurrent infections
  • Bone pain
  • Passing a lot of urine
  • Being very thirsty

In most cases these symptoms will be a sign of something less serious than cancer. However if you are experiencing unusual or persistent symptoms, it’s always best to contact your GP practice to get checked as soon as possible.

You can learn more about symptoms here.

Getting checked – what’s involved?

As the symptoms of blood cancer can be quite vague, often people delay speaking to their GP practice because they feel like they will be wasting time. But your GP practice won’t think this – they will want to hear from you. 

Because when cancer is found at an earlier stage, more treatment options could be available. 

Your concerns will be listened to and, depending on what you’re experiencing, the primary care clinician may:

  • Reassure you
  • Ask for more information on when your symptoms started and whether anything makes them better or worse
  • Arrange for you to have blood tests
  • Refer you to the hospital for further tests


  1. Blood cancers are collectively the 5th most common cancer type in Scotland
  2. Around 2300 people are diagnosed each year*
  3. Around 80% of people diagnosed are aged 55+**
  4. Around 3 out of 5 people survive Blood cancer or Leukaemias for at least 5 years

* includes Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, Leukaemias, Multiple Myeloma and malignant plasma cell neoplasms and Hodgkin Lymphoma

**excluding Hodgkin Lymphoma

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