13 January, 2020
Bloodwise, the UK's leading blood cancers research charity, has analysed NHS data in England and found that 28% of patients diagnosed with blood cancers are done so via emergency admissions to hospital rather than via their GP, which is significantly higher than cancers on average, which is 19%.
Late diagnosis of blood cancers can lead to a higher risk of death due to fewer treatment options. Bloodwise have warned that delays are costing a significant number of lives a year and is urging the NHS to take urgent action to get more people diagnosed earlier. In their report, 'Delays Expected', Bloodwise estimates that around a third of patients with blood cancers visit their GP at least three times before their illness is recognised and they are sent for tests. Given that blood cancers are the third biggest cancer killer, this finding is alarming.
There are a number of types of blood cancers, which include leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. The symptoms can be vague in isolation and in the report, Bloodwise acknowledge that GPs face a challenge in spotting potential symptoms of blood cancers, which perhaps contributes to around a third of people with blood cancers having to see their GP three or more times before receiving a diagnosis.
Just 40% of people with blood cancers live for three years or more if they are diagnosed as an emergency, compared to 77% of those diagnosed via their GP. Which demonstrates the importance of early diagnosis.
There are many possible signs and symptoms of blood cancers, the most common include:
However, it is important to note that not everyone will have the same symptoms.
There are over 40,000 new cases of blood cancers in the UK every year. Bloodwise has warned that blood cancers are in danger of being left out of plans to speed up cancer diagnosis in England, and that the Government must help the NHS to significantly reduce the number of GP appointments needed to diagnose blood cancers in the next five years so fewer people are forced to seek emergency help.
One way which might assist this goal is Faster Diagnosis Standard (FDS), which is a new target NHS England are working towards. FDS will ensure that all patients who are referred for the investigation of suspected cancer find out within 28 days, if they do or do not have a cancer diagnosis. This standard will be introduced in April 2020.
Hospitals started recording data in 2019, which should help to understand current performance in England and will identify where improvements need to be made before the standard is introduced in April.
Further details about Bloodwise's findings can be found here. If you have any concerns about the care you have received or have suffered a delayed diagnosis, please contact our clinical negligence department on 01254 872111 for further advice.
For more information contact Lyndsay Baxter in our Clinical Negligence department via email or phone on 01772 220384. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.