At caboodle, 4 of us have been affected by blood cancer. This September, we’re trying to help raise awareness of blood cancer as part of #bloodcancerawareness month. As part of our efforts to raise awareness, we’re writing on our blog about how to spot the signs, what precautions you should take, what treatment is available and advice on life after blood cancer. This week, we’re focusing on the symptoms.
Why it’s important to spot the signs
Leukaemia Care, a national blood cancer support charity, have set up the #SpotLeukaemia campaign to also help raise awareness of blood cancer throughout September. The campaign focuses on the symptoms but also the importance of recognising them.
- Leukaemia patients are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed by an emergency route compared to the average for all cancer patients (37% vs 22%).
- 19% of patients were initially treated for something else by their GP before being diagnosed with leukaemia
- Almost 1 in 5 (17%) experienced symptoms for more than 7 months before diagnosis
What are the main common symptoms you should look out for?
The six most common symptoms are:
- Feeling weak or breathless
- Fever or night sweats
- Easily bruising or bleeding
- Pain in bones or joints
- Frequent infections.
Some symptoms depend on your age.
If you’re under 16 years old, you might find you’re also experiencing stomach pain on a regular basis. Almost all cases of leukaemia diagnoses for those under 16 are acute leukaemia.
If you’re 16-24 years old, you might also find you’re experiencing regular headaches. The most common diagnosis for this age is acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).
If you’re 25-64 years old, you’ll be mostly looking for the symptoms explained above. The most common diagnosis here is acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).
If you’re over 65, you’ll need to look out for weight loss as a symptom.
However, early diagnosis is extremely important. There’s also a few further symptoms to look out for.
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Stomach discomfort
- Nausea or vomiting
- Numbness in hands or feet
- Heart palpitations
- Loss of concentration
- Sleeping problems
- Muscle pain
- Back pain
- Itchy skin
- Weight loss
What to do if you’re concerned
As mentioned, it can be difficult to spot the signs and symptoms. However, if you think you might have some symptoms, visit your GP. Doing this early will give you peace of mind or at least allow you to get diagnosed early.
Most people don’t know about the symptoms until someone they know has been affected. By helping to raise awareness and supporting the campaign, you can help save lives. To help raise awareness, you can use the hashtags #bloodcancerawarenessmonth and #SpotLeukaemia on social media or even tell your friends and family.
For more info on blood cancer awareness month and the #SpotLeukaemia campaign, visit www.leukaemiacare.org.uk.