Other haematology conditions

There are many blood conditions that LBC can offer further information and support around. Some of these are listed below.

Acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL or APML)

APML is a sub-type of AML. It behaves slightly differently and is treated with different chemotherapy drugs. Click here for a useful booklet from Leukaemia & Lymphoma Reseach (UK).

AL Amyloidosis

The term amyloidosis (a-mee-loid-o-sis) is used to describe a group of conditions where an abnormal protein called amyloid builds up in the body. One type of amyloidosis is called AL amyloidosis.

AL is the abbreviation for amyloid and light chain. Abnormal plasma cells in the bone marrow produce light chains that form amyloid proteins. The amyloid proteins can accumulate in tissues and organs, disrupting their function. Amyloid deposits can build up almost anywhere in the body.

AL amyloidosis is often treated in a similar way to myeloma. See the myeloma booklet for more information.

Aplastic anaemia

Aplastic anaemia is not a form of cancer. It is a rare condition characterised by a significant reduction in the number of red cells, white cells and platelets in the bone marrow. This occurs when the bone marrow fails to produce sufficient new numbers of these cells. On examination following a biopsy, the bone marrow often shows that normal cells have been replaced by fat cells.

The cause of aplastic anaemia is thought to be an autoimmune response by the body, whereby the immune system starts to destroy tissues within it. It may be caused by triggers such as a response to certain drugs, exposure to certain chemicals or as the result of a virus.


Haemophilia is a hereditary bleeding disorder – people are affected from birth. The blood of a person with haemophilia does not clot normally. This is because one or more of the plasma proteins needed to form a clot and stop the bleeding, is either missing or reduced. There are 13 main clotting factors (identified by roman numerals) that work together to produce a clot. If one factor is missing the chain reaction is broken, clots will not form properly, and bleeding will continue.

A person with haemophilia may bleed for longer than other people; and in some cases may not stop without adequate treatment. There are other types of bleeding conditions, such as Von Willebrand’s disorder, that are also supported by the Haemophilia Foundation of New Zealand.

Immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)

ITP (also known as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura or immune thrombocytopenia) is an autoimmune disease. In autoimmune diseases, the body mounts an immune attack toward one or more seemingly normal organ systems. In ITP, platelets are the target. They are marked as foreign by the immune system and eliminated in the spleen, the liver, and by other means. In addition to increased platelet destruction, some people with ITP also have impaired platelet production. With few platelets, people with ITP often have bleeding symptoms such as spontaneous bruising, tiny red dots on the skin, or for women, heavy periods. More severe bleeding symptoms include blood blisters on the inside of the mouth, and blood in the urine or stool.

Treatments for ITP vary depending on the platelet count, severity of symptoms, age, and lifestyle. The Platelet Disorder Support Association (USA) also has some useful information.

Read the ITP factsheet


Mastocytosis is a group of rare conditions caused by an excess of mast cells that accumulate in the body’s tissues (such as skin, liver, spleen, bone marrow and small intestines). The two main types of mastocytosis are cutaneous mastocytosis and systemic mastocytosis. Systemic mastocytosis is classified as a myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) and mainly affects adults.

Mast cells are produced in the bone marrow and are an important part of the immune system and help fight infection.

Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)

MGUS is a non-cancerous condition related to myeloma. Similar to myeloma, MGUS involves the production of paraprotein by plasma cells. MGUS doesn’t cause any symptoms and it is usually picked up during a routine blood or urine test. People diagnosed with MGUS don’t require any treatment apart from regular follow-up by their doctor, usually on a yearly basis to have their protein levels checked. Over time a small number of people with MGUS may go on to develop myeloma. For this reason, MGUS is often referred to as a ‘pre-cancerous’ condition but a change from MGUS to myeloma only occurs in approximately 1% of people with MGUS each year.


Plasmacytoma (plas-mar-sy-toe-mar) is a mass of myeloma cells that can form in the bone, skin, muscle or elsewhere in the body. If it is only found in one location in the body, the condition is described as a solitary myeloma or solitary plasmacytoma. A mass of myeloma cells outside the bone is called an extramedullary or soft tissue plasmacytoma.

A plasmacytoma can sometimes be successfully treated using radiotherapy alone but regular monitoring and follow-up is required in case it develops into myeloma. There is more information about myeloma in this booklet.


Thalassaemia describes a group of genetic conditions that are characterised by a reduction in the number of haemoglobin cells (red blood cells) produced in the bone marrow. Haemoglobin is the cell in the body that is responsible for transporting oxygen. A reduction in the number of haemoglobin cells causes anaemia and, if left untreated, it can be life threatening as the vital organs of the body, such as the heart, lungs and liver, may fail due to lack of oxygen.

Thalassaemia can be divided into two main categories, alpha thalassaemia and beta thalassaemia, depending on which part of the haemoglobin is deficient. These can then be divided into three further classifications – thalassaemia minor, thalassaemia intermedia, and thalassaemia major. The treatment for each classification may vary slightly, depending on the individual and the clinical symptoms experienced. More information on thalassaemia and related disorders can be found on the Thalassemia Australia website. Click here for some useful information from Thalassaemia Australia.