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Shining a light on blood cancer 

This feature is funded by Janssen: Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson

What would you do if you felt tired a lot of the time, started having night sweats or developed itchy skin and rashes?

Would you try and speak to your GP? Or would you wait, assuming your symptoms were down to the hot weather and your busy schedule?

If you would put it off, you’d be among just over one quarter of Brits who would do nothing if they experienced some of the common symptoms of blood cancer for more than one week, according to a survey of over 2000 people conducted by YouGov to coincide with the Make Blood Cancer Visible campaign.1

A hidden cancer

Blood cancer is a type of cancer that affects your blood cells,2 often making it difficult to spot – the symptoms can be vague and feel a bit like being ‘run down’ or having flu.3 Some types of blood cancers, such as myeloma, leukemia and lymphoma are more common in people aged over 60,4,5,6 and can have symptoms like breathlessness, a pale complexion and unexplained weight loss.7

The new survey suggests that many don’t know about the signs and symptoms of blood cancer, or have a good understanding of the condition more broadly.1 Nearly three-quarters (70%) did not know that blood cancer is in the top five most diagnosed cancers in the UK.1 And just one in 25 (4%) people could identify myeloma, lymphoma and leukaemia as the three main types of blood cancer.1

Low awareness of blood cancer can cause delays to diagnosis.8 Blood cancer is often diagnosed following a visit to A&E, when symptoms may have worsened – in England, for example, nearly a third (30%) of cases are diagnosed in this way.9 For some blood cancers, such as myeloma and some types of lymphoma, patients diagnosed at more advanced stages or via A&E may have fewer treatment options and face lower chances of survival.8

Help us make blood cancer visible

September is blood cancer awareness month and the Make Blood Cancer Visible campaign aims to raise awareness of the symptoms and help people spot the signs sooner. At a time when people are likely to be feeling more nervous about their health, the campaign’s positive message is an important one: the earlier blood cancer is diagnosed, the better the chances of extended survival.8

Of course, most people with the below symptoms won’t have blood cancer. But if you do experience any of these signs, it’s a good idea to book an appointment with your GP:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained bruising or bleeding
  • Lumps or swellings
  • Drenching night sweats
  • Persistent, recurrent or severe infections
  • Unexplained fever (38°C or above)
  • Unexplained rash or itchy skin
  • Bone, joint or abdominal pain
  • Tiredness that doesn’t improve with rest or sleep
  • Breathlessness
  • Unusually pale complexion (pallor)7

Learn more about blood cancer and the common signs by watching the Make Blood Cancer Visible video and visiting the Make Blood Cancer Visible website. Because early detection of cancer can save lives.10

This feature has been organised and funded by Janssen: Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, and written on the company’s behalf by M&F Health, based on the findings from a national, online cancer awareness survey of 2184 UK adults carried out in July 2020 by YouGov. The survey was funded by Janssen.

Make Blood Cancer Visible is sponsored by Janssen and supported by Blood Cancer UK, CLL Support Association, CML Support, Leukaemia Care, Leukaemia UK, Lymphoma Action, MDS Patient Support, Myeloma UK and WMUK, and will run throughout September as part of Blood Cancer Awareness Month.
Date of prep: September 2020 Job code: CP-171237
1 YouGov (2020) Blood Cancer Awareness Survey. Data on file. Last accessed: September 2020
2 Blood Cancer UK (2020) What is blood cancer? Available at: https://bloodcancer.org.uk/understanding-blood-
cancer/what-is-blood-cancer/ Last accessed: September 2020.
3 Blood Cancer UK (2018). The ‘Hidden’ Cancer. Available at:
https://media.bloodcancer.org.uk/documents/bloodwise-appg-report-hidden-cancer.pdf. Last accessed September
2020.
4 Multiple Myeloma. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/multiple-myeloma/ Last accessed: September 2020
5 NHS (2020) Overview: Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chronic-
lymphocyticleukaemia/#:~:text=Chronic%20lymphocytic%20leukaemia%20is%20a,Children%20are%20almost
%20never%20affected. Last accessed: September 2020
6 NHS (2020) Overview: Non- Hodgkin Lymphoma Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/non-hodgkin-
lymphoma/ Last accessed: September 2020
7 Blood Cancer UK (2020) Signs and symptoms. Available at: https://bloodcancer.org.uk/understanding-blood-
cancer/blood-cancer-signs-symptoms/ Last accessed: September 2020.
8 Blood Cancer UK (2019) End the Delays. Available at:
https://media.bloodcancer.org.uk/documents/bloodwise-delayed-diagnosis-report_RIQgdp7.pdf Last accessed
September 2020.
9 Blood Cancer Dashboard. Emergency Presentations. Available at:
https://www.bloodcancerdata.co.uk/emergency-presentations/. Last accessed September 2020.
10 WHO. Guide to Cancer Early Diagnosis. 2017. Available at:
https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/254500/9789241511940-
eng.pdf;jsessionid=92D5E3975A6D81453C89A215FF325D02?sequence=1. Last accessed September 2020.
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