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AML World Awareness Day, supported by Know AML, is to help raise awareness and promote education in patients, families, healthcare professionals, as well as the general public, across the globe.
What is AML?
AML stands for acute myeloid leukaemia or acute myelogenous leukaemia. Each year, there are over 3000 cases of AML diagnosed in the UK, which accounts for around a third of all leukaemias. However, due to the severity, AML accounts for over half (55%) of all leukaemia deaths, over 2500 each year.
Most patients are older, with 67% of people diagnosed aged 65 or older. Find out more in our recent ‘Leukaemia: I wasn’t born yesterday’ report.
Why is early diagnosis important?
On average, 53% of AML patients are diagnosed via emergency presentation. This compares to a cancer average of 22%.
Emergency presentation is associated with a later stage of diagnosis for most cancers and poorer outcomes. For AML, there are lower survival rates at 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months and 24 months for those diagnosed via emergency presentation than the average for AML for all routes.
Based on our recent patient survey, 54% of patients will experience symptoms less than a month before seeing a GP, because they are so severe. As such, to help improve diagnosis and decrease mortality rates, our focus is on noticing signs and symptoms at a faster rate.
The most common symptoms (before diagnosis) include:
· Feeling weak or breathless
· Easily bruise or bleed
· Fever/night sweats
· Pain in bones/joints
Julie Platt was diagnosed with AML after suffering with flu-like symptoms for a number of weeks. Her full story can be read here. And, more unusually, Graham’s diagnosis came from his dentist after suffering from a sore mouth, whose story can be read here.
These two stories alone stress the importance of being vigilant when it comes to spotting symptoms. If you or anyone you know has any concerns, it is important to visit the GP.
What can you do to help?
For those who may have AML, getting a diagnosis as early as possible can make all the difference when it comes to treatment. At Leukaemia CARE, we have created a number of materials to help to support patients, families and healthcare professionals to make this possible:
Download a symptoms card or pass it onto your GP to help check for the symptoms associated with leukaemia. This easy to follow guide encourages people to remain blood cancer aware following a simple four-point checklist. Think TEST:
· Tiredness and exhaustion
· Excessive sweating (night sweats, fever)
· Sore bones and joints
· Terrible bruising and unusual bleeding
Alternatively, your GP can take part in our free online training. Developed alongside the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) eLearning team, these two 30-minute modules further help to make recognising signs and symptoms easier. Find out more about the course here and download a copy of our flyer to take to your GP here.
You can also help this AML World Awareness Day by getting involved on social media using the hashtags #knowAML and #fightAML, as well as wearing red and black to show your support.
For more opportunities on how to raise awareness of leukaemia, keep a look out for our Blood Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) campaign this September!