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Over half of UK adults unable to name single blood cancer symptom

31st Aug 2023

As we enter Blood Cancer Awareness Month, we're highlighting the massive crisis of awareness in blood cancer. Despite blood cancer being the UK’s third biggest cancer killer, one in four people would be unlikely to go to their GP if they had any of the main symptoms.

Woman lying on sofa looking tired.

Fatigue is one of the main symptoms associated with blood cancer


Over half of UK adults cannot name a single symptom of blood cancer despite it being the third biggest cancer killer in the UK, according to new research commissioned by our charity.

When people were asked to spontaneously list what they thought were common signs of blood cancer, we found more than half (55%) said they did not know of any.

A quarter (25%) said it would be somewhat or extremely unlikely they would consult a GP if they had any of the main symptoms associated with the disease - fatigue, bruising, swollen lymph nodes and night sweats.

The main symptoms of blood cancer

When asked to list up to 10 types of cancers they were aware of, leukaemia and blood cancer were the 12th and 13th most commonly listed while lymphoma came 21st and Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma 24th. Only 2% of those polled had leukaemia as top of mind and just 1% recalled blood cancer as their greatest concern.

We commissioned the YouGov poll of more than 2,200 UK adults was commissioned to mark the beginning of Blood Cancer Awareness Month, and the findings highlight an urgent need to raise public awareness of blood cancer.

Kate Keightley, head of support services at Blood Cancer UK, said: ‘Blood cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer in the UK so it’s extremely concerning to continue to see such low public awareness of the symptoms.

‘Sadly, symptoms such as night sweats and unexplained tiredness, weight loss and bruising can sometimes be dismissed or downplayed, with devastating results. We fear many people might also be confusing breathlessness, a fever and tiredness with Covid-19 and cases are being left undiagnosed. At the moment, we know that too many people are being diagnosed late, which often reduces the chance of survival, so it is so vital people get symptoms checked out as soon as possible.

‘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.’

Blood Cancer UK funded researcher Dr Farhat Latif Khanim from the University of Birmingham in a laboratory holding a pipette and sample jars.

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