1. Leukemia affects white blood cells

Healthy white blood cells help your body fight infection. If a person has leukemia, abnormal white blood cells, called leukemia cells, form in the bone marrow and spread into the bloodstream, where they compete with healthy cells and weaken the immune system.

2. Myeloma affects plasma cells

Plasma cells are white blood cells that produce antibodies. In myeloma, abnormal plasma cells (myeloma cells) accumulate in the bone marrow, which can cause weak bones, fractures and other symptoms.

3. Lymphoma affects lymphatic cells

Lymphatic cells are a type of white blood cell that appear in the bloodstream and the lymph system, which fights infection. Lymphoma often causes swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, armpits and groin, and can appear in many other parts of the body.

4. They contain multitudes

There are four main types of leukemia and dozens of subtypes of lymphoma. Some are extremely rare, and these can be more difficult to treat because they receive less research funding than other cancers that affect more people.

SHOUT-WORTHY: Survivval rates have doubled in the last 20 years, with 46.4 percent of people diagnosed with leukemia lving 5 years or longer.

5. No screening for early detection

Unlike breast or colon cancer, which can be detected and treated early thanks to regular screenings, there are no effective screening tests for blood cancers. This means that people with these diseases usually don’t know something is wrong until they experience symptoms like weight loss, fever or weakened immunity.

6. Living longer

Survival rates have doubled in the last 20 years. According to the National Institutes of Health, 46.4 percent of people diagnosed with leukemia live 5 years or longer. That rate climbs to 70.0 percent for non-Hodgkin lymphoma and 85.9 percent for Hodgkin lymphoma.

7. Living better

New treatments are being developed that target specific proteins in cancer cells without harming other cells. This leads to fewer side effects and better quality of life for patients.

8. On the brink of discovery

Some cutting-edge treatments seem especially promising. These include immunologic treatments that harness the body’s immune system to fight malignancy, genomic profiling of the many types and subtypes of cancer cells and new developments in stem cell biology.

9. But there’s still a way to go

Scientists have roadmapped what they want to research next, but they have also identified big gaps in funding. Even though Congress increased the NIH’s budget by $2 billion for 2016, years of budget cuts before this have taken their toll. Funding shortfalls are especially frustrating to researchers now, when major breakthroughs seem so close.

10. It takes a village

Over the last two decades, non-government organizations like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the American Society of Hematology, and the American Cancer Society have contributed a larger percentage of total cancer research funding. And these organizations wouldn’t be able to help without financial support from other philanthropies and individuals. Fighting blood cancers is a massive effort. We’re all in it together.