Blood cancer diagnosed too late due to lack of awareness

Thousands of blood cancer patients are not receiving a diagnosis of their condition until too late because of a lack of awareness of the symptoms among health professionals and the public, research shows

Blood cancers are remaining undiagnosed because patients delay seeking help and GPs take too long to make referrals to hospitals, a major patient survey and interviews with clinical nurse specialists has shown.

The Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research charity carried out the study and is now setting up a panel of expert nurses in response, to advise it on how its own internal services for patients can be improved.

The charity's survey of 1,000 patients, together with interviews conducted with 21 clinical nurse specialists and focus groups, found that many patients face delays in diagnosis and that some are only tested after feeling very unwell and going to A&E. Blood cancer symptoms such as tiredness, night sweats and headaches are often not recognised by GPs as signs of cancer, the charity says.

Its conclusions are summarised in a report, Patient need: Improving the experiences and outcomes of people affected by blood cancer.

Head of research Matt Kaiser said: ‘We know that blood cancer symptoms are diverse and can be hard to spot but there is also an urgent need to raise awareness of these conditions among GPs, other health professionals and the public.’

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