Signs of blood cancer revealed actor Sam Neill gives update on illness

Six little-known signs of blood cancer revealed as disease-stricken Jurassic Park actor Sam Neill gives update on his illness

  • Unexplained bruising, discoloured patches and rashes can be a sign of cancer 
  • Swollen lymph glands and feeling tired are also warning sign to get checked out 
  • READ MORE: What is angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma? 

Cancer-stricken Jurassic Park actor Sam Neill has insisted he is not afraid of dying.

The 76-year-old announced earlier this year that he has angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL), a rare blood cancer that affects the lymphatic system, the body’s disease-fighting network.

In an interview with Australian Story, Neill revealed how he has began taking a new experimental drug to fight off the disease after chemo failed. 

He’s been told by his doctors that one day the drug will stop working, which he says he is ‘prepared for’.

Symptoms of AITL, a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, can include a fever, night sweats, a rash and autoimmune disorders.

Here, MailOnline reveals six warning signs of blood cancer in general.  

Symptoms of angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, can include having a high fever, night sweats, skin rash, and autoimmune disorders

Sam Neill has revealed the emotional letter he wrote to his children as he battles stage-three blood cancer  


Feeling tired even after getting enough sleep and rest could be a sign of anaemia. 

Caused by a low level of red blood cells — which carry oxygen around the body — anaemia can make you feel tired, breathless and look pale. 

Although this can be a sign of food deficiencies, such as not getting enough iron in your diet, Blood Cancer UK warns it is also a potential warning sign of blood cancer. 

To check if you are anaemic, experts suggest pulling down your lower eyelid. If you are anaemic it will look pale pink instead of dark pink or red. 

Other symptoms of anaemia include feeling faint and having headaches, according to the charity.

Unexplained rash

Bruises are normally a sign of bleeding under the skin and caused by an injury. But if they appear for no reason, it could be a sign of something more sinister. 

An unexplained bruise can mean you have low platelets, which help the blood to clot, says Blood Cancer UK. 

‘They show as darker or a different colour to the skin around them and may feel tender when you touch them’, the charity warns.

This unexplained bruising can also appear as a rash. It may show as small spots in the skin or as larger discoloured patches, says Blood Cancer UK. 

On black and brown skin, these patches and spots can look purple or darker than the surrounding skin. On lighter skin, it usually shows as red or purple.  

 Neill also revealed he has been in remission for 12 months thanks to an anti-cancer drug, but admits he is ‘prepared’ for the fact that it will eventually stop working

Unexplained fever

Blood cancer can cause persistent, recurrent and severe infections.

That’s because those with the disease have lower levels of white blood cells, which usually help to fight infection. 

A high temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above, even if there is no obvious sign of infection, could also be a sign of the disease, warns Blood Cancer UK. 

In some cases, people with a type of blood cancer, called lymphoma, experience drenching night sweats. 

The cause of these night sweats in unclear, the charity says. 

Lumps and swellings

Abnormal white blood cells can build up in your lymph glands when you have blood cancer, causing swellings and lumps. 

These usually appear in your neck, armpit or groin, according to Blood Cancer UK.

Most are painless, but sometimes they can ache, the charity says.  

‘If there are lumps or swellings further inside your body, and they press on organs such as your lungs, this can cause pain, discomfort or breathlessness’, says Blood Cancer UK.  

The Jurassic Park star, 76, told Australian Story he started planning to write the letter to his son Tim, daughter Elena and grandchildren after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin blood cancer 

Abdominal problems

Pain in your stomach can be another sign of blood cancer. 

It is caused by abnormal blood cells building up in the spleen, says Blood Cancer UK.

This can trigger swelling and feelings of fullness after only eating a small amount.

Some people feel discomfort and pain in the abdominal area, as well as bloating. 

You may also experience pain under your ribs on the left side, the charity says. 

Unexplained weight loss 

Losing weight without trying can be a sign of blood cancer.

Some forms of the disease use up energy the body would otherwise use or store, according to Cancer Research UK.

It adds: ‘Rarely, an enlarged spleen may also increase the weight loss by squashing your stomach and making you feel full more quickly than usual. You may then eat less than normal.’

However, some people lose weight even when they are eating normally.

This is called cachexia, where your body doesn’t absorb all the fat, protein and carbohydrate from food and burns calories faster than normal. 

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