Nurse shares ‘common’ symptom of blood cancer to look out for

Blood cancer: Symptoms explained by healthcare professionals

Blood cancer is a form of the disease that affects the production and function of blood cells.

There are three main groups of blood cancer: leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma, of which there are multiple forms of the disease.

Symptoms experienced will therefore depend on the type of blood cancer someone has.

However, according to one expert, there is one sign that is “common” among all types.

Registered nurse and advisor to Blood Cancer UK, Gemma Trout, spoke with to explain more.

READ MORE 11 common signs and symptoms of blood cancer to look out for

She said: “Blood cancer symptoms vary depending on the type of blood cancer, whether it’s leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma, MDS, MPN or another form.

“Some symptoms are also more common in particular types.

“What is important is to consider body vigilance and if something is unusual or does not feel right, it is best to report this to your doctor and also consider if a symptom is lasting a long time and is consistent over weeks.”

She warned that extreme tiredness, or fatigue, is a symptom of all types of blood cancer.

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Ms Trout said: ““First signs depend on the type of blood cancer someone might have.

“Fatigue that cannot be improved by sleep is a symptom that is common in all blood cancers and that the patient may feel consistently unwell.”

She said that fatigue can be caused by anaemia in myeloma patients.

“Myeloma can be fatigue due to anaemia, bone pain and nausea,” she said.

“Myeloma symptoms are often called CRAB symptoms because they are caused by: calcium levels in the blood being too high, renal (kidney) damage, anaemia (a low level of red blood cells) and bone damage.”

Ms Trout shared how fatigue caused by blood cancer can feel.

“Blood cancer related fatigue is when you’re totally drained in body or mind,” she commented.

“Fatigue can be present even when you’ve rested or slept well.

“Lots of things can play a role in fatigue – the blood cancer itself, anaemia and persistent symptoms including infections that can lead the body to work harder.”

She listed other potential symptoms of blood cancer as:

  • Weight loss that is unexplained
  • Bruising or bleeding that is unexplained
  • Lumps or swellings
  • Shortness of breath (breathlessness)
  • Drenching night sweats
  • Infections that are persistent, recurrent or severe
  • Fever (38C or above) that is unexplained
  • Rash or itchy skin that is unexplained
  • Pain in your bones, joints or abdomen (stomach area)
  • Paleness (pallor).

She urged people to speak to a doctor if they experience any concerning signs.

Ms Trout added: “Unfortunately, as there are several possible symptoms for the various blood cancer diagnoses, it is important to relay to your doctor if your symptoms are unusual for you and that they have continued for a period of time.

“Keeping a symptom diary is important and Blood Cancer UK has some suggestions on how to talk to your doctor if you are concerned.

“We would not expect symptoms to be missed and if the signs are alike more common disorders like iron deficiency or infections then it is imperative to re-visit your doctor as individually, blood cancers are not common.”

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