Leukaemia is the most common form of childhood cancer, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is the fifth most commonly occurring cancer.

Leukaemia is diagnosed in 1 in 3 children with cancer. However, more adults than children are diagnosed with Leukaemia each year. Leukaemia, a Greek word meaning white blood, was identified in 1845. Leukaemia represents just over 5% of all cancers. The first drugs that were effective for the treatment of Leukaemia did not appear until the 1950's.

Leukaemia is a malignant disease (cancer) of the blood and bone marrow. It is characterized by the uncontrolled accumulation of blood cells. Types of leukaemia are grouped by the type of cell affected and by the rate of cell growth. Leukaemia is either acute or chronic.

When people speak of "Leukaemia" there are a variety of specific conditions that include leukaemia, aplastic anaemia, lymphoma, myeloma and related blood diseases.

Thirty years ago, patients diagnosed with leukaemia faced a poor prognosis. Thanks to developments in medical research and new treatments, around eight  in every 10 children, and three in every 10 adults survive acute leukaemia after treatment.

When you are looking for information about leukaemia, it really helps to know the proper medical diagnosis so that you can find the correct information.

Leukaemia or Leukemia - US and UK spelling

It's not surprising that spelling of medical terms is confusing. Leukaemia is the English spelling, while Leukemia is the American spelling!


Lymphoma is a general term for cancers that start in the lymph system; mainly the lymph nodes. The two main types of lymphoma are Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Hodgkin lymphoma spreads in an orderly manner from one group of lymph nodes to another. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma spreads through the lymphatic system in a non-orderly manner. The causes of lymphoma are unknown. 


Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells. In myeloma, the cells overgrow, forming a mass or tumor that is located in the bone marrow. Bone marrow is the spongy tissue found in the center of the bone, where red cells, white blood cells, and platelets are made.

Age is the most significant risk factor for developing myeloma. People under age 45 rarely develop the disease. Those aged 67 years or older are at greatest risk of developing myeloma. Men are more likely than women to develop myeloma, and myeloma is about twice as common among African Americans as among Caucasians.