Nearly a third of blood cancer cases are only diagnosed after emergency hospital admissions.
A Cancer Patient Experience Survey by blood cancer charity Bloodwise has revealed that thousands of blood cancer sufferers are diagnosed later than they should be, with around 30 per cent having to see their GP three or more times before being diagnosed.
The survey also found that around the same percentage of blood cancer cases are only diagnosed once the patient has been admitted in an emergency case.
The organisation also found that many of those suffering from the condition claim to have found it difficult to get their GPs to take the symptoms seriously.
Diana Elkins, whose father Trevor passed away from blood cancer after visiting his GP 12 times, told the charity that he only received an accurate diagnosis for his persistent cough, weight loss, back pain, rash and a lump in his groin after being admitted to A&E.
He sadly lost his life just two weeks later.
“His symptoms were typical of his type of blood cancer,” Diana told Bloodwise, “but he trusted his GP and never made a fuss or questioned why he wasn’t tested for cancer or sent to see a specialist, even though he continued to suffer symptoms for a year.
“In the end he was in so much agony and could barely move that I had to take him to A&E. He was distressed on the journey there, it was very frightening.
“He was then admitted to intensive care and finally diagnosed with blood cancer. He never came home.”
Bloodwise has now launched a petition to try and prevent cases like Trevor’s, calling on the NHS and governments across the UK to support GPs.
The group want GPs to receive support to ensure that they are using the latest guidance on blood cancer symptoms in order to make a proper diagnosis.
They also hope that the support will encourage GPs to follow up with patients whose symptoms might be blood cancer as well as refer those with signs for further tests if their symptoms don’t improve.
‘Our organisational view is that reducing late diagnosis could save thousands of lives over a five-year period, particularly for some types of blood cancer,’ says Bloodwise. ‘This view is shared by the Westminster Government and NHS England who have made diagnosis of all cancers a major priority.
‘As well as the impact on survival rates and quality of life, addressing late diagnosis would also have a big positive psychological impact, as people often find the prolonged challenge of finding out what is wrong with them extremely distressing’.