Blood cancer symptoms do not have to be cryptic

23rd September 2019

Blood cancer symptoms do not have to be cryptic

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month, a campaign to increase awareness of blood cancer symptoms. Blood cancer describes many different types of cancer that can affect the blood, bone marrow or lymphatic system.

Blood cancers are the fifth largest group of cancers in the UK and the third largest causer of cancer death. There are more than 100 individual types of blood cancer, and early diagnosis can help increase the chances of survival.

There are lots of possible signs and symptoms of blood cancers like leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. The most common symptoms include:

  • Unexplained bruising or bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Lumps or swellings
  • Drenching night sweats
  • Persistent, recurrent or severe infections
  • Unexplained fever (38°C or above)
  • Unexplained rash or itchy skin
  • Bone, joint or abdominal pain
  • Tiredness that doesn’t improve with rest or sleep
  • Breathlessness
  • Unusually pale complexion (pallor)

2018 – National Cancer Patient Experience Survey (CPES) – found that blood cancer is now the worst performing cancer in terms of early diagnosis, with 35.6% of blood cancer patients having to visit their GP three or more times before being referred to a hospital for a diagnosis. This is compared to 23% of cancer patients overall.

Nearly three-quarters of adults (69%) believed their symptoms were either trivial or would go away by themselves, but more than one in ten (11%) felt that a doctor wouldn’t take their concerns seriously. Of those with symptoms, a third did see a doctor, but less than a quarter (23%) went within a month and just over one in 10 (11%) waited at least six months.

Despite the push to improve the understanding of blood cancers for both the wider public and healthcare professionals, we continue to hear stories from people affected by blood cancer of avoidable delays to diagnosis that have had huge consequences for their treatment and potential survival.

If you think you or a loved one has been affected by a delay in the diagnosis of a blood cancer, please contact a member of the Higgs & Sons Clinical Negligence Team on 0800 073 8080 to see how we can help you.



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