Leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are types of cancer that can affect the bone marrow, the blood cells, the lymph nodes and other parts of the lymphatic system. These cancers are all related since each are likely a result from acquired changes to the DNA of a single stem cell.
Unless otherwise noted, statistical information from Canadian Cancer Society’s Advisory Committee on Cancer Statistics, Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014. Toronto, ON; Canadian Cancer Society; 2014
Click below on the pdf for the full report of "2014 Blood Cancer Facts".
Alternatively, click on the links below to view statistics about each disease:
- General Blood Cancers
- Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS)
- Myeloproliferative Neoplasms
- Polycythemia Vera
- Primary Thrombocythemia
- Young & Young Adults Blood Cancers (Age 15-29)
Incidence is the number of newly diagnosed cases for a specific cancer or for all cancers combined during a specific time period:
- One person in Canada is diagnosed with a blood cancer approximately every twenty five minutes.
- An estimated combined total of 21,000 people in Canada will be diagnosed with a blood cancer in 2014.
- New cases of leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma are expected to account for 10 percent of the estimated 191,300 new cancer cases diagnosed in Canada in 2014.
- Blood cancers are the fourth most frequent cancer diagnosis in Canada (in men prostate, colorectal, lung, blood cancers; in women breast, lung, colorectal, blood cancers).
Prevalence is the estimated number of people alive on a certain date in a population who previously had a diagnosis of the disease. An estimated 100,00 people in Canada are living with, or are in remission from, leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma or myeloma.
Relative survival compares the survival rate of a person diagnosed with a disease to that of a person without the disease. The most recent survival data available may not fully represent the outcomes of all current therapies and, as a result, may underestimate survival to a small degree.
- Approximately every 75 minutes, someone in Canada dies from a blood cancer. This statistic represents 19 people each day.
- Leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma are expected to cause the deaths of an estimated 7,000 people in Canada in 2014. Blood cancers are the third leading cause of cancer death in Canada, after lung & colorectal.
- These diseases are expected to account for 9 percent of the deaths from cancer in 2014, based on the estimated total of 76,600 cancer deaths.
- In general, the likelihood of dying from most types of leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma decreased from 2000 to 2010.
In 2014, 5,900 people are expected to be diagnosed with leukemia.
In 2014, 2,700 people are expected to die from leukemia.
More males than females are diagnosed with leukemia and die of leukemia. One in 54 males will develop leukemia in their lifetime and one in 93 will die. One in 72 females will develop leukemia in their lifetime and one in 123 will die.
Most cases of leukemia occur in older adults; the median age at diagnosis is 66 years.
In 2014, leukemia is expected to strike approximately 12 times as many adults as children age 0-14 years. • The most common types of leukemia in adults are AML and CLL.
The terms “myeloid” or “myelogenous” and “lymphoid,” “lymphocytic” or “lymphoblastic” denote the cell types involved. In general, leukemia is characterized by the uncontrolled accumulation of blood cells. However, the natural history of each type, and the therapies used to treat people with each type, are different.
ALL and AML are diseases that progress rapidly without treatment. They result in the accumulation of immature, nonfunctional cells in the marrow and blood. The marrow often stops producing enough normal platelets, red cells and white cells. Anemia, a deficiency of red cells, develops in virtually all people who have leukemia. The lack of normal white cells impairs the body’s ability to fight infections. A shortage of platelets results in bruising and easy bleeding.
CLL and CML usually progress slowly compared to acute types of leukemia. The slower disease progression allows greater numbers of more mature, functional cells to be made.
- In 2014, there are expected to be 9,000 new cases of lymphoma diagnosed in Canada (1,000 cases of Hodgkin lymphoma - HL, 8,000 cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma - NHL).
- In 2014, 2,700 people are expected to die from lymphoma (100 from HL, 2,600 from NHL).
- NHL is the sixth most common cancer in Canada.
“Lymphoma” is a general term for many blood cancers that originate in the lymphatic system. Lymphoma results when a lymphocyte (a type of white cell) undergoes a malignant change and multiplies out of control. Eventually, healthy cells are crowded out and malignant lymphocytes amass in the lymph nodes, liver, spleen and/or other sites in the body.
Hodgkin Lymphoma (HL) has characteristics that distinguish it from other diseases classified as lymphoma, including the presence of the Reed-Sternberg cell, a large, malignant cell found in HL lymphoma tissues.
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) represents a diverse group of diseases that are distinguished by the characteristics of the cancer cells associated with each disease type. The designations “indolent” and “aggressive” are often applied to types of NHL. Each type is associated with factors that categorize the prognosis as either more or less favorable.
- In 2014, 2,600 people are expected to be diagnosed with myeloma.
- The median age at diagnosis is 69 years; myeloma rarely occurs in people under age 45.
- In 2014, approximately 1,400 people are expected to die from myeloma.
- Overall, mortality from myeloma has been decreasing from 1995 to 2010 (the most recent data available).
Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells (a type of white cell). Plasma cells are found primarily in the marrow. About 90 percent of people with myeloma have disease involving multiple sites at the time of diagnosis. Some individuals have myeloma that progresses very slowly (sometimes referred to as “smoldering” or “indolent” myeloma). In myeloma, a B lymphocyte (the cell type that forms plasma cells) becomes malignant. Eventually, malignant plasma cells (myeloma cells) amass in the marrow and sometimes other sites in the body. The myeloma cells disrupt normal blood production, destroy normal bone tissue and cause pain. Healthy plasma cells produce immunoglobulins (antibodies) that protect the body against certain types of infection. The onset of myeloma interferes with antibody production, making people with myeloma susceptible to infection and other serious complications.
- There were an estimated 1,400 new cases of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) diagnosed each year from 2006 to 2010.
- The estimated overall incidence rate of MDS is 4.8 cases per 100,000 population.
- A possible cause of MDS (and acute myeloid leukemia) is repeated exposure to benzene.
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of diseases of the blood and marrow, with varying degrees of severity and life expectancy. MDS begins with a change to a normal stem cell in the marrow. The marrow becomes filled with an increased number of developing blood cells. However, the blood is usually deficient in cells because the cells in the marrow die before they can be released into the blood. Normally, immature cells known as “blasts” make up less than 5 percent of all cells in the marrow. In MDS, blasts often constitute more than 5 percent of the cells. (A person with acute myeloid leukemia [AML] has more than 20 percent blasts in the marrow.) MDS has been known as “smoldering leukemia” or “preleukemia.” These terms may be misleading because they imply that MDS is only serious and problematic if it evolves into AML; this is not the case.
Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) are types of blood cancer that begin with an abnormal mutation (change) in a stem cell in the bone marrow. The change leads to an overproduction of any combination of white cells, red cells and platelets.
This group of blood disorders includes polycythemia vera, essential thrombocythemia and myelofibrosis.
- The incidence rate of polycythemia vera (PV) varies worldwide, ranging from approximately 0.5 to 2.5 new cases per 100,000 people each year.
- The average age at which PV is diagnosed is about 60 to 65 years old.
- PV is uncommon in individuals younger than 30 years old.
- There are an estimated 0.1 to 2.4 new cases of primary thrombocythemia (PT) per 100,000 people each year.
- PT occasionally occurs in older children but is diagnosed mostly in adult men and women.
- Myelofibrosis affects about two in one million people.
- The average age at which myelofibrosis is diagnosed is between 50 and 80 years, but it can occur at any age.
- 1.5% of all new cancer cases diagnosed in Canada occur in youth & young adults age 15-29.
- 18% of cancers in youth & young adults age 15-29 are lymphomas – 12% is Hodgkin lymphoma and 6% is non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Hodgkin lymphoma has a survival rate of over 95% in youth & young adults.
- Leukemia accounts for 6% of cancers in youth & young adults.