More than half of British adults cannot name any symptom of blood cancer, and could confuse it with Covid-19, a blood cancer charity has warned.
Blood Cancer UK found 56% of 2,035 adults did not know any common signs of blood cancer, in a survey published yesterday ahead of blood cancer awareness month this month. This was up from 52%, who were asked the same question in 2018.
This included only 1% correctly identifying a fever as a sign of the disease, while just 3% named breathlessness. Because these are also symptoms of Covid-19, the cancer could be left undiagnosed, Blood Cancer UK warned.
Kate Keightley, head of support services at Blood Cancer UK, said: ‘During the height of the pandemic, we saw far fewer people being diagnosed with blood cancer, and one of the reasons for this could be that some of the symptoms of blood cancer are easily mistaken for Covid.
‘It’s extremely worrying that public awareness that these could be signs of blood cancer continues to be so low,’ she added.
Meanwhile, 30% knew fatigue was a common symptom, while 11% identified bruising and 10% named weight loss. Only 5% of respondents identified pain, 2% cited repeated infections, and just 1% identified lumps and night sweats.
Ms Keightley continued: ‘Getting diagnosed as early as possible can really help improve the success of treatment for a number of types of blood cancer. We’re concerned that the pandemic has put people off going to their GP and the impact this is having on catching cancer early.
‘If you have symptoms that cannot be explained and are persistent, you should urgently make an appointment with your GP. While it is unlikely to be anything serious, it’s so important to get checked out.’
One in 19 people will be diagnosed with blood cancer, which include leukaemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, at some point in their lives. They kill more people every year in the UK than either breast or prostate cancer.