Today MPs will be launching the first ever report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Blood Cancer. The report, The ‘Hidden’ Cancer – The need to improve blood cancer care, concludes that the government’s 2015 Cancer Strategy is not doing enough to support blood cancer patients.
The APPG report recommends:
- GPs should be more ready to offer blood tests to patients with blood cancer symptoms in order to improve early diagnosis
- NHS England should ensure psychological and emotional support is available to patients and families from the point of diagnosis and throughout treatment.
- All blood cancer patients to be assigned to a clinical nurse specialist (one in 10 patients currently 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
Gemma Peters, our Chief Executive, said: “This important report is the first of its kind to shine a light on the fact that blood cancer, and the needs of blood cancer patients, can be very different to solid tumour cancers. Blood cancer is the fifth most common cancer and the third biggest cancer killer in the UK, claiming more lives every year than either breast or prostate cancer. Despite this, public awareness of blood cancer is very low, and the very specific needs of blood cancer patients are often overlooked by the NHS and decision-makers.
“The MPs are right to highlight the lack of essential emotional and psychological support available for people with blood cancer, particularly for the 27,000 people currently on watch and wait treatment programmes. These patients, who tend to have slow-developing, chronic cancers, are diagnosed with blood cancer but do not require treatment straight away. Instead, they are monitored regularly with check-ups and blood tests to see if their condition has deteriorated, and while some of these patients will eventually need intensive treatment, others never do.
“Our supporters frequently tell us how highly stressful it is living with such long-term uncertainty and anxiety, and in a recent survey we found that more than four in 10 are not receiving the psychological support they need to cope with their diagnosis. This is unacceptable, and we urge the Government, NHS England and local Cancer Alliances to act immediately and respond positively to the report’s recommendations, in particular that all blood cancer patients and their families should be offered psychological support from the point of diagnosis.
“We also welcome a balanced approach to implementing the report’s recommendation that GPs should offer blood tests to those with one or more blood cancer symptoms. This needs to be done in a way that does not overburden healthcare professionals but leads to earlier diagnosis, wherever possible.”