Former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh
Former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh Rob Williams

Anna Bligh diagnosed with cancer

Former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has been diagnosed with cancer.

In a statement issued this afternoon, Ms Bligh said she had a tumour removed from a lymph node in her neck last week, and this has since been diagnosed as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

It is the same form of cancer that struck Australian singer Delta Goodrem.

 She said she would commence further tests in the next few weeks.

"I am very grateful for the excellent care I have received from the staff of St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, and the loving support of my family and friends," Ms Bligh said.

"I am maintaining my positive attitude as I prepare for treatment."

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer that develops in the lymphatic tissue.

The cancer causes damage to the lymphocytes, a type of white-blood cell, causing them to grow abnormally and multiply uncontrollably. This causes tumours to form on lymph nodes, the glands which form part of the immune system.

People diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma have a five year survival rate of 71%.

Almost 4000 people are diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma each year in Australia.

In Australia in 2007, there were 1319 deaths caused by non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and 70 deaths caused by Hodgkin lymphoma.

Ms Bligh, who is 52, was the 37th Premier of Queensland - the first woman to be appointed to the role.

While controversial for her role in selling off state assets, she was hailed for her handling of the Queensland floods disaster.

 She led Labor to victory in the 2009 Queensland state election, becoming the first woman elected in her own right as a state premier in Australia.

Bligh attempted to win a second full term as Premier in the 2012 state election.

However, her party suffered the worst defeat of a sitting government in Queensland history, winning only seven seats.

In the wake of the loss, Bligh announced her immediate resignation as leader of the Queensland Labor Party. She also announced that she would resign from parliament and retire from politics, effective 30 March 2012.

Born in Warwick, she grew up on the Gold Coast.

Her parents separated when she was 13 and she attended Catholic schools until Year 9, even considering becoming a nun.

Later she campaigned for legalised abortion, protesting the anti-abortion policies of the Bjelke-Petersen government.