Blood cancer: Three early symptoms to spot on your skin – what to look out for


Leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma are some of the most common types of blood cancer. Many types of blood cancer are now highly treatable and the five-year survival rate for blood cancer is still 70 percent on average, according to Blood Cancer UK. With this in mind, spotting the early symptoms is integral with your skin holding many clues pertaining to your risk. What to look out for?

According to Blood Cancer UK, early symptoms to spot can include:

  • 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 (38°C or above) that is unexplained
  • Rash or itchy skin that is unexplained
  • Pain in your bones, joints or abdomen (stomach area)
  • Tiredness that doesn’t improve with rest or sleep
  • Paleness.


Blood Cancer UK explained on its website: “Not everyone will have the same symptoms.

“Some symptoms of blood cancer can look different on different skin tones.

“Bruises generally start as red patches which change colour and get darker over time, and they often feel tender.

“On black and brown skin, bruises may be difficult to see initially, but as they develop, they show up as darker than the skin around them.”

The signs that appear on the skin can be more or less difficult to identify depending on your natural skin tone.

On light skin a red or purple splotch produces a greater contrast and is easily identified.

On black or brown skin this can appear as a purple patch that appears darker than the skin surrounding it.

Because of the increased difficulty that can occur in identifying these signs, groups like the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust work to increase awareness about these symptoms in communities where they are less likely to be detected.

People aged 65 and over are more likely to experience weight loss or swollen lymph nodes in conjunction with the other symptoms warning of blood cancer.

If you have a slow-growing blood cancer, you may not need treatment straight away, and some people never need it.

Blood cancer treatments can have some side effects.

Some people experience some of these effects as a result of the cancer itself, even if they aren’t having treatment.


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