The APPGBC launched an inquiry in spring 2017 to look at services across the blood cancer treatment pathway. This included:
- Public awareness and early diagnosis
- Patient experience
- Living with and beyond blood cancer
- Access to new medicines and support for research
- NHS commissioning
The inquiry's report The ‘Hidden’ Cancer – The need to improve blood cancer care was launched in Parliament on 17 January 2018 and concluded that the government’s 2015 Cancer Strategy is not doing enough to support blood cancer patients and patients feel let down. It also recommended that GPs should immediately request a blood test for anyone presenting with one or more symptoms of blood cancer.
Blood cancer symptoms can be vague, with patients often reporting general fatigue, night sweats, weight loss, or bruising, all of which can be mistaken for other, less serious conditions such as being run down or flu. Because of this, blood cancer patients often have to visit their GP significantly more times than other cancer patients before being referred to hospital for diagnosis.
In many cases patients’ illnesses go completely undetected until they are so unwell that they end up needing emergency care in hospital A&E departments. Delayed diagnosis for some blood cancers can impact the patient’s chance of survival and their quality of life.
To assist early diagnosis, screening is commonplace for people with few or no symptoms in other suspected cancers, such as breast cancer, but this is not the case for blood cancer, even though a swift and accurate diagnosis can often be made with just a simple blood test.
As well as proposing more frequent blood testing, the Group identifies an urgent need for better education and training for doctors and medical students to help them spot blood cancer.
The report also recommends:
- NHS England should ensure psychological and emotional support is available to patients and families from the point of diagnosis and throughout treatment. This is particularly important for patients put on Watch and Wait treatment programmes, and not given treatment straight away.
- all blood cancer patients to be assigned to a clinical nurse specialist (1 in 10 patients do not have a CNS)
- ongoing investment in public awareness campaigns about blood cancer
- continued government investment in blood cancer research and clinical trials
- better joined up working between primary and secondary health services, and between oncology and haematology teams.
Download the full report (PDF)
About the All Party Parliamentary Group on Blood Cancer
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Blood Cancer (APPGBC) was first established in June 2016. It re-formed in July 2017. The elected officers are:
All Party Parliamentary Group Chair: Henry Smith MP
All Party Parliamentary Group Vice-Chairs: Colleen Fletcher MP, Maggie Throup MP
All Party Parliamentary Group Officers: Jim Shannon MP, Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, Jess Phillips MP
Bloodwise provides the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Blood Cancer and works closely with a wider blood cancer community to support the group’s work. For more information, please get in touch. You can also follow the APPGBC on Twitter.