Henry Smith MP is supporting a campaign to reduce the number of blood cancer patients who experience potentially life-threatening delays to diagnosis.
The Crawley MP and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Blood Cancer met with representatives from the blood cancer charity Bloodwise in Parliament on Wednesday, 16th October, who have launched a new report into the issue.
“A significant number of people in Crawley 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.
“This is why I set up the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blood Cancer three years ago – to raise awareness of what is often a ‘hidden’ cancer and promote the needs of patients and their support networks with parliamentary colleagues, the Government, the NHS and wider stakeholders.”
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 per cent of people with blood cancer live for three years or more if they are diagnosed via emergency admission to hospital, compared to 77 per cent 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.
Gemma Peters, Chief Executive of Bloodwise, commented;
“It’s fantastic to have Henry Smith 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.”
The Crawley MP has also launched (on Tuesday, 15th September) the Blood Cancer APPG’s new inquiry on Genomic Medicine in Blood Cancer. The inquiry will seek to understand the promise and challenges of genomic medicine in blood cancer. The inquiry will explore genomic medicine in general but with a particular focus on whole genome sequencing.
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.