I am supporting a campaign to reduce the number of blood cancer patients who experience potentially life-threatening delays to diagnosis. I met with representatives from the blood cancer charity Bloodwise in Parliament on Wednesday (16 October) who have launched a new report into the issue.
A significant number of people in East Worthing and Shoreham are affected by blood cancers like leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Delays to diagnosis can have a huge impact on mental health, treatment options and chances of survival, so it’s vital that urgent action is taken to help save lives.
The charity’s report highlights NHS data that shows three in 10 people with blood cancer are only diagnosed when their symptoms need emergency treatment.
The charity fears this shows that people are dying needlessly because opportunities to pick up blood cancer sooner are being missed. Just 40% of people with blood cancer live for three years or more if they are diagnosed via emergency admission to hospital, compared to 77% of those diagnosed via a GP referral.
Blood cancer is the third biggest cause of cancer deaths in the UK. Bloodwise is calling for GPs to get greater support to recognise blood cancer symptoms, which can include unexplained bruising, bleeding, night sweats, fatigue and weight loss. The charity also wants them to refer patients with vague, unexplained symptoms for specialist tests so that fewer people with blood cancer slip through the net and end up needing emergency medical care.
Bloodwise Chief Executive Gemma Peters said: “It’s fantastic to have Tim Loughton MP’s support for our campaign to end the potentially devastating impact of avoidable delays to diagnosis of blood cancer.
“We need to support GPs to better recognise symptoms and a relentless focus from Government on reducing unnecessary appointments and emergency diagnoses.”
Bloodwise’s report ‘Delays Expected’ and a guide to the symptoms of blood cancer are available at www.bloodwise.org.uk For confidential support and information about blood cancer call the Bloodwise helpline for free on 0808 2080 888.