The truth about blood cancers
Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research aim to raise public awareness of blood cancers, which account for one in ten of all new cancer diagnoses in the UK
Many people in the UK know little about blood cancers, the related symptoms and how best to describe these conditions, according to a new study from blood cancer charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.
In the UK, blood cancers represent one in ten of all new cancer diagnoses. Collectively, it’s the third largest cancer killer and can affect people from all stages and walks of life. Despite this, evidence suggests awareness and understanding of blood cancers is very low among the general public.
These findings come from ‘Patient Need’, the UK’s biggest ever research project into the needs of blood cancer patients. Instigated by Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research two years ago, the project involved a landmark national survey answered by over 1,700 people affected by blood cancer and a YouGov awareness study which surveyed nearly 2,000 respondents.
National data from the Cancer Patient Experience Survey (NCPES) identified that blood cancer patients had to see their GP more times than other cancer patients, before they were told they needed to go to hospital. More than 1 in 3 (36%) blood cancer patients saw their GP more than twice, compared to 1 in 4 (25%) other cancer patients. These figures are also in line with what ‘Patient Need’ found about the wider awareness of blood cancers. Those blood cancers that have lower levels of awareness with the general public – myeloma in particular – took longer for GPs to diagnose, suggesting that they also have a lower profile with primary care professionals.
Figures from the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) also highlight that a relatively high number of blood cancer patients are being diagnosed in A&E compared to other cancers, with over 50% of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) patients diagnosed in an emergency setting. Once diagnosed, ‘Patient Need’ has found that many patients are then unclear about what’s available to them as blood cancer patients, who they can approach to get guidance and signposting to services, and what support and resources are out there that can help them. In particular, the lack of an appropriate post-treatment care package for blood cancer patients and access to appropriate psychological and emotional support have been recognised as areas of significant unmet need.
Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research have identified low awareness of blood cancers as a crucial barrier to early diagnosis and ultimately increasing survival rates for blood cancer patients. Following the general election, the charity will be taking the messages of ‘Patient Need’ to the new parliament, with a Blood Cancer Awareness campaign to follow this autumn calling on all MPs to take the campaign to their constituents and pledge support to beating blood cancer.
hereto read the Patient Need report in full.