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Guidelines for reporting on Blood Cancer in Australia

Important points to remember when reporting on blood cancer

The stories shared by the Leukaemia Foundation with media about blood cancer are crucial to helping to inform and educate our communities. These stories also play a critical role in providing the most current, relevant and accurate information to the wider community.

As the leading voice for blood cancer in Australia, we want to help every journalist tell every story with accuracy, breadth and clarity with the highest level of integrity and consideration.

When working with the media, our commitment is to provide access to the most current information and expert sources available, while always putting the needs of people living with blood cancer at the centre of everything we do.

What is blood cancer?

Blood cancer, sometimes also referred to collectively as haematological cancers, haematological malignancies or haematological neoplasms, is a complex group of diseases linked by their origins in the bone marrow, where blood is produced.

Blood cancer arises from abnormalities in the blood cells that affect normal blood cell production and function.

There are more than 140 types of blood cancer. The most common are leukaemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.

There are also diagnoses of other types of blood cancers (or disorders) that fall under the category of Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) and myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN).

Below are short explanations of each of these main types of blood cancer.

  • Leukaemia – Leukaemia is the general name given to a group of cancers that develop in the bone marrow.
  • Lymphoma – Lymphoma is the general term for cancers that develop in the lymphatic system.
  • Myeloma – Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells.

You can find the full definition of each blood cancer here.

Because there are so many types of blood cancers and some are very rare, there may be some instances where disease-specific information is not listed on our site.

We have relationships with and access to some of Australia’s leading blood cancer experts. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the media team if you need more information.

Writing about blood cancer

We aim to help media report on blood cancer accurately in all instances, in the most proactive and most sensitive way possible. We therefore encourage media to use correct language and avoid misleading, negative or disempowering language that could affect our community.

Please avoid the term blood cancer patients. We prefer people living with blood cancer.

Please avoid negative battle language like fighting, combatting, and struggling against blood cancer. Instead try using terms like living with, beating, managing and experiencing blood cancer.

Leukaemia …. never leukemia

Please always spell leukaemia with the “ae”, not the American spelling which removes the central “a”. The blood cancer community in Australia will use the leukaemia spelling when searching for information about their disease, and may not be able to find your media coverage if the spelling is incorrect.

When to capitalise and abbreviate

When talking about blood cancer, it is important that media address each disease and sub-type by its correct title and that the use of capitalisation is in line with the correct medical spelling of each disease.

There are some specific rules in relation to how the diseases are capitalised that are important to remember.

  • All blood cancers including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma and their sub types are always lower case.
  • Sub types of the disease are spelt out in full in the first instance and then abbreviated thereafter. For example:
    • The boy developed acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL)
    • The Brisbane mother survived chronic lymphoblastic leukaemia (CML)
    • Their son died after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)
    • The new drug will treat myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNS)
    • Sometimes myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) develops into other blood cancers.

Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma

The most common exception to the above rule is the spelling of Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In this case the capitalisation of Hodgkin is relevant as the cancer is named after Thomas Hodgkin who first discovered abnormalities in the body’s lymphatic system in the 1800s.

For any clarification regarding spelling or abbreviation of a blood cancer please don’t hesitate to reach out to the media team.

Interviewing people living with blood cancer and working with case studies

We are always here to help provide media with access to the most relevant case studies available.

We will work with people living with blood cancer and their families and provide support for those who are undertaking media interviews.

We expect and appreciate the professionalism and humanity shown by all journalists and also acknowledge the pressures of busy newsrooms and deadlines.

Interviewing some people living with blood cancer and their families can sometimes be difficult as they are often amid gruelling treatment regimes and battling nasty side effects.

We ask that media is always considerate and sensitive to the needs of our case studies and are also careful not to catastrophise outcomes, or over emphasise the efficacies of treatment, which may mislead case studies, or members of our wider community.

If you require any further clarification about diseases and treatments after speaking to a case study, please always reach out to the Leukaemia Foundation media team.

Calls to action and points of contact

Please help us provide people living with blood cancer and their families and friends with access to information by always including our organisation’s contact details in any media coverage.

By listing contact information, you are helping to ensure our community has a direct pathway to the most relevant information available and an immediate point of contact. This helps to provide access to our support when people living with blood cancer really need it most.

Our general contact details are:

Phone: 1800 620 420

Email: info@leukaemia.org.au

Website: www.leukaemia.org.au

Specific media contacts can be found here.

Contact our media team