Startling new research confirms four in five Australians (78%) are not confident they can identify the symptoms of blood cancer, leaving many at risk of a life-threatening delayed diagnosis.
The research commissioned by The Leukaemia Foundation also showed just under a third of Australians (30%) admitted that even if they were experiencing any of the main symptoms associated with blood cancer, they weren't confident or sure they would consult their GP about them.
With more than 110,000 Australians already living with blood cancer and 15 dying from it every day, foundation chief executive Chris Tanti said it is vital to build public understanding of the disease and to spotlight its severity.
"If you don't understand what you're looking for, you can't possibly have a chance of finding it, and failing to identify blood cancer and diagnose it quickly can be fatal," Mr Tanti said.
There are three main types of blood cancers: leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
"Ongoing symptoms like recurrent infections, increased fatigue, night sweats, bone pain, bruising or enlarged lymph nodes should be immediately discussed with your GP or blood cancer specialist," Mr Tanti said.
"The vitally important first step to driving down blood cancer mortality is awareness. It's crucial that we ensure Australians are informed enough to spot it as it develops and feel empowered and confident to seek medical attention before it's too late."
Blood cancer figures continue to rise year-on-year in Australia. The disease is now the country's second-most diagnosed cancer and the number two cause of cancer-related deaths.
Unlike other cancers, blood cancer can develop in anyone at any stage of life.
There is no way to prevent it through lifestyle change and there are no screening programs to detect it, making it crucially important for every Australian to be personally able to identify blood cancer symptoms.
Yet in many cases, blood cancer symptoms can be mistaken for infections like the flu or even Covid-19, which can mean people delay visiting their GP or specialist, sadly leading to a delayed diagnosis.
"Acute blood cancers often require treatment to begin in the first 48 hours after diagnosis, with any delay severely impacting survivability, so every hour counts in this fight," Mr Tanti said.
"If you are experiencing symptoms, your priority must be getting to your doctor and urgently getting a blood test,"
He said no one is immune from developing the disease, so nobody can afford to be complacent.
"Blood cancer can be quick to develop, fast to progress and tragically it can swiftly claim lives."
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Unexplained weight loss
- Unexplained bruising or bleeding
- Lumps or swellings, . including petechiae - tiny, unraised red blood spots under the skin, often starting on legs.
- Shortness of breath
- Drenching night sweats
- Infections that are persistent, recurrent or severe
- Regular and frequent fevers
- Unexplained rash or itchy skin
- Pain in your bone, joints or abdomen
- Unusually pale complexion
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