Leading charity warns of blood cancer awareness 'crisis'
Bloodwise warns of ‘crisis’ in awareness as the charity launches the UK’s biggest ever blood cancer public awareness campaign.
Every year in the UK 14,000 people tragically lose their lives to blood cancer. It is the UK’s third biggest cancer killer and combined blood cancer accounts for 1 in 10 of all new cancer diagnoses each year.
These are stark figures which emphasise the need for concerted action to improve outcomes for blood cancer patients. Yet despite claiming more lives in the UK each year than breast or prostate cancer, many people have little or no knowledge about blood cancers.
This September, to coincide with Blood Cancer Awareness Month, we will be launching a nationwide awareness campaign to highlight the fact that blood cancer is comprised of 137 individual diseases* – a message which will be shared on social media and on 3,000 billboards across the UK.
The campaign is a response to research we undertook as part of our
Patient Needprogramme which revealed that for patients, this lack of awareness adds significantly to the stress, uncertainty and worry that comes with a cancer diagnosis. Low awareness of blood cancer also meant many patients, friends and families didn’t know about the organisations and support services that exist to help them.
We found that only 38% of the UK public had heard of myeloma, the blood cancer responsible for the most deaths a year – and many of those confused the disease with skin cancer melanoma. Even lymphoma, the most common group of blood cancers, could only be identified as a cancer by half the population. This results in newly diagnosed patients and their families feeling confused and isolated.
A lack of awareness over symptoms, both among patients and in primary care settings, can also lead to a delay in diagnosis – which for those blood cancers that need to be identified as soon as possible, can have a negative impact on patient outcomes. Only 64% of patients with blood cancer saw their GP twice or fewer before being referred. This is in comparison to 75% for all cancers, and 92% for breast cancer.
Raising awareness is a crucial step in our mission to beat blood cancer, but we cannot do it on our own. We therefore urge Government to renew their efforts to promote early diagnosis and commit to long term stable funding for research in the NHS, in order to improve survival rates and accelerate outcomes for all patients affected by the 137 types of blood cancer.
We are also asking parliamentarians across all parties to pledge their support for our campaign and get involved – either by attending
our drop-in session in parliament on 16th September,
spreading the word on social mediaor helping us take our message back to their constituency.
*Number of individual blood cancers according to
the World Health Organisation.