September is Leukaemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month
Leukaemia and lymphoma are both types of blood cancer. Every 20 minutes, someone in the UK is told they have a blood cancer like leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma, that’s 25,000 people each year .
Leukaemia is the most common form of childhood cancer, accounting for approximately 30% of all cases . While leukaemia is the most common form of childhood cancer, over all it is the 11th most prevalent cancer in the UK. There are 4 main subtypes of leukaemia :
Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML)
Lymphoma is the most common blood cancer in young people aged 15 to 24. There are over 35 different types of lymphoma which can make it difficult to treat . Lymphoma is split into two general subtypes:
Stem Cell Transplants: Treating Leukaemia and Lymphoma
Leukaemia and lymphoma are often treated with chemotherapy, a medicine that kills the cancerous cells; in the case of leukaemia and lymphoma patients the chemotherapy kills the cancerous cells in the blood and blood-producing bone marrow. Patients who undergo high doses of chemotherapy need a stem cell transplant. Cord blood samples are a valuable source of stem cells for blood cancer patients not least because they are readily available, are easier to match to patients and cord blood transplants are less likely to result in Graft Versus Host Disease.
Cord blood banking is incredibly important to help treat patients with blood cancer. For those people who have a cancer which runs through the family, cord blood banking in a family bank could increase the family’s chance of finding a stem cell match for a loved one if they ever needed it. This is also the case for those who have a rare tissue type such as mixed heritage or ethnic minority families. However, public banking can also help someone in need right now or can be stored until the sample is matched to a patient. Mixed heritage and ethnic minorities are under-represented in public banks; the donation of cord blood from these particular communities cannot be underestimated.