Chris Walden
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It's vital that blood cancers aren't missed out of Government’s new cancer strategy

Chris Walden
Posted by
03 Oct 2018

Theresa May announced a new cancer strategy today that aims to save thousands of lives each year in England by speeding up cancer diagnosis.

Proposals include lowering the age at which screening starts, increased investment in MRI and CT scanners and building more ‘rapid diagnostic centres’, primarily to ensure that people suspected of having one of the ‘big four’ cancers - breast, bowel, prostate  or lung cancer - get diagnosed more quickly.

While these new services are incredibly welcome and will save lives, it is important that the strategy helps people with the more vague symptoms of other cancers, such as blood cancer.

Despite being the fifth most common cancer in the UK, blood cancer is often misdiagnosed. It is well-evidenced that people with blood cancer symptoms have to see their GP more times than any other cancer patients before being referred to hospital.

In fact, the recent National Cancer Patient Experience Survey found that more than one third (35.6%) of people with blood cancer had to see their GP at least three times before being diagnosed  - with one in 10 needing to do so five or more times.

However, there is now a major opportunity for the NHS in England to tackle this delay in diagnosis as it invests the £20billion of new funding provided by the Chancellor.  

A major step forward would be a clear pathway from GP to hospital for people with vague symptoms, including providing an immediate blood test for anyone presenting with a potential blood cancer symptom. This would stop people needing to repeatedly visit their GP, taking up valuable GP time and resources, and delaying what might turn out to be lifesaving treatment.