Urgent call to find missing 850 blood cancer patients

Blood cancer: Symptoms explained by healthcare professionals

Hundreds of people are feared to be unaware they are living with incurable blood cancer after a drop in diagnoses during the pandemic.

Charity Myeloma UK sounded the alarm after 851 fewer cases than expected were detected in the two years to February 2022.

Myeloma is a difficult cancer to spot due to vague symptoms. One in three patients visits their GP at least three times before a diagnosis.

As Myeloma Awareness Week begins today, the public has been urged to be aware of signs including back pain, easily broken bones, fatigue and recurrent infections.

The charity’s chief executive, Sophie Castell, said: “We know that during the pandemic fewer people were diagnosed with myeloma than expected.

“This means that around 851 people could be unaware that they are living with blood cancer.

“It might take more than one appointment for your doctor to put the pieces of the puzzle together. So please keep pushing or ask for a second opinion. Together we’ll find the missing 851.”

Ms Castell added: “The most important thing people can do is rule themselves out by checking their symptoms and, if anything isn’t right, go see their GP.”

Myeloma is a rare incurable cancer which occurs in the bone marrow and affects 24,000 people in the United Kingdom.

A total of 8,797 cases were diagnosed in England between March 2020 and February 2022.

This was 851 fewer cases than would have been expected, based on the figure for 2019.

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The condition is also sometimes known as multiple myeloma as it often affects several areas of the body such as the spine, skull, pelvis and ribs.

One in four patients waits more than 10 months for a diagnosis and the disease claims 3,000 lives a year. It can usually be detected with a ­simple blood test and treatments ­can ease symptoms and improve patients’ quality of life.

Despite myeloma being incurable, around a third of sufferers survive ­
at least 10 years.

It is more common among over-60s, men, black people and those with a family history of the disease.

  • For more information: myeloma.org.uk/how-you-can-help/help-shape-our-work/find-the-851

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