Stiliyan Petrov

Aston Villa captain, Stiliyan Petrov

Over the weekend we heard the news that Stiliyan Petrov, captain of Aston Villa football club, has been diagnosed with acute leukaemia.

We wish him the very best of luck, and our thoughts are with his family.

As a result of his diagnosis, we’ve noticed an increase in traffic to our website from people looking for information about his disease.

To help, we’ve pulled together links to our main pages below.

What is leukaemia?

Leukaemia is a disease of white blood cells, the generic name given to a whole range of cells that form our immune system. In normal circumstances, they help to defend the body against infectious diseases.

There are many different types of leukaemia. The name of the particular type of leukaemia depends on how quickly it develops and the type of white blood cell that it affects.

According to media reports, Mr Petrov has been diagnosed with ‘acute’ leukaemia. Acute leukaemia develops very quickly (whereas chronic leukaemia tends to develop slowly, usually over months or years).

What are the different types of leukaemia?

There are two main types of acute leukaemia:

There are also three main types of chronic leukaemia:

Click on the links to read more information on our CancerHelp UK website, including detailed information about the diseases’ symptoms, causes and treatments.

These leukaemias make up about 80 per cent of cases of leukaemia. On top of this there are a whole range of rarer leukaemias.

How many people develop leukaemia?

Around 7,500 people develop leukaemia in the UK every year. That’s about 21 people every day. About 2.5 per cent of all UK cancers are leukaemias.

Of these, about 39 per cent are acute leukaemia. And this is made up of 30 per cent acute myeloid and 9 per cent acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is very rare in adults.

What is the outlook for people with leukaemia?

The likely outcome with leukaemia depends on several things, including how advanced the disease is when it’s diagnosed, the type of leukaemia, and how well it responds to treatment. It’s impossible to say more about Mr Petrov’s case without knowing more details.

However, overall, people diagnosed with leukaemia today are now four times as likely to survive their disease for at least 10 years than those diagnosed in the early 1970s.

But it’s important to realise that statistics are averages based on large numbers of people. They cannot predict exactly what will happen to specific individuals. No two people are exactly alike, and how well treatment works will vary from one person to another.

What research is going on for leukaemia?

Researchers around the world are working on new ways to diagnose and treat leukaemia. It’s thanks to such continued work that survival rates have improved over the past decades.

You can read highlights of our research into leukaemia on our website, and you can also read about the achievements our researchers have made over the decades.

And we aim to list all leukaemia cancer trials and studies recruiting people in the UK on our CancerHelp UK database. The information about these clinical trials is written for patients, their families and friends.

And here’s a link to all the posts we’ve written on this blog about the disease.