Ever since establishing and being elected to chair the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Blood Cancer in 2016, I’ve been struck by the stories from Crawley residents who, like myself, have lost family members to the UK’s third biggest cancer killer.
As the most common cancer amongst people under the age of 30, blood cancer is one of the great health challenges of our time and is in need of enhanced public awareness.
Today (Wednesday, 17th January), I have secured a parliamentary debate on NHS blood cancer care. This will be followed immediately by the launch of the APPG’s first report, on the same subject.
Our report highlights the salience of early diagnosis for patients. Blood cancer symptoms often resemble feeling ‘run down’ or having the flu, such as fatigue, night sweats, weight loss, bruising and pain.
Delayed diagnosis for some of the 137 types of blood cancer can impact on a patient’s chance of survival, and their quality of life.
The patient experience must also be enhanced. Diagnosis of a chronic blood cancer can lead to a regime of ‘watch and wait’, where a condition is monitored for potentially many years, before it has progressed to a point where treatment needs to start.
To not know when you can even commence treatment is distressing and more needs to be done to provide tailored psychological support to patients on such programmes.
Organisations like Macmillan Cancer Support provide help to patients and their families. The charity have an Information Hub open this week at County Mall (on the ground floor opposite Thorntons) to answer any questions.
Action in the priority areas outlined in the report will require collaboration between patients, Government, medical professionals and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). I’ll be writing to the Crawley CCG and am continuing to make representations with the Department of Health.
Of course, on this page I’ve only been able to provide an outline of the issues I’m pursuing. If you’d like to find out more, please visit www.henrysmith.info/bloodcancer or tune into ParliamentLive.tv at 2.30pm to watch my debate in Westminster Hall.
Henry Smith MP