The local and national impact of blood cancer

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month, an opportunity to highlight the 137 different types of blood cancer, which claim more lives than either breast or prostate cancer. Around 240,000 people are currently living with blood cancer in the UK, and more than 100 people on average are diagnosed daily.

Of course, behind each statistic is a patient and their family, friends and wider support network.

Ebonie Musselwhite from Crawley is just seven years old, and was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) two years ago. About 650 people are diagnosed with ALL each year in this country, with half of these being children.

There have been a number of fundraising events taking place across town to go towards the costs of Ebonie’s support, she will potentially need to go to join a treatment trial. The Crawley Fire Station barbeque raised over £1,100, with Crawley Lawn Tennis Club set to hold a tournament to raise funds on 8th September.

As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Blood Cancer, it is accounts such as Ebonie’s which will be in my mind when the Group meets next week.

As part of this upcoming session, which will focus on the importance of diagnosis of blood cancer, we will listen to representatives from the Royal College of Pathologists, Leukaemia Care and Myeloma UK. Secretariat support for the APPG comes from the leading blood cancer charity Bloodwise.

Earlier in the year our Group published its first report on ‘The ‘Hidden’ Cancer’ – so-named because while patients may be receiving or waiting to start treatment they may not be displaying any obvious signs of ill health.

The report’s recommendations include that GPs should immediately request a blood test for anyone presenting with one or more symptoms of blood cancer. Patients often report symptoms including general fatigue, night sweats and weight loss which can be mistaken for less serious conditions such as being run down or flu.

Helping to raise awareness of blood cancer and its symptoms is key to ensuring early diagnosis.

Henry Smith MP