1 in 10 wouldn’t contact GP with ANY symptoms of blood cancer

A poll of more than 2,000 UK adults has revealed that 1 in 10 of people would not visit the GP with the symptoms that could indicate a leukaemia. 

Almost 10,000 people will be diagnosed with the blood cancer in the UK each year, but the latest YouGov poll showed that people would be reluctant to visit the GP with the most common symptoms of the disease

The poll revealed that:

  • 55% of adults wouldn’t visit their GP about easily bruising or unusual bleeding
  • 72% wouldn’t see a medical professional about fever or night sweats
  • Over two in five adults (43%) wouldn’t speak to their doctor about feeling weak or breathless
  • 77% would not visit a medical professional if experiencing fatigue
  • 82% wouldn’t see sleeping problems as a reason to speak to a health care professional
  • Men are more likely to be diagnosed with a leukaemia, yet they were nearly twice as likely to not contact their doctor about any of those symptoms – 13% of men compared to just 7% of women. Worryingly, men were less likely to present to their GP with any of the presenting symptoms compared to the women in this survey.
  • While leukaemia is the most commonly diagnosed childhood cancer, the average age of diagnosis is actually over 65. Alarmingly, just 6% were able to identify that this cancer is more prevalent in the older age groups.

The symptoms of leukaemia are non-specific and so can be confused for other illnesses and the most common are:

  • Fatigue
  • Feeling weak and breathless
  • Fever or night sweats
  • Easily bruising or bleeding
  • Pain in the joints or bones
  • Frequent infections
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sleeping problems
  • Back pain

This poll was commissioned ahead of World Leukemia Day on 4th September 2020, which is a global campaign run in collaboration by patient groups from around the world. The results have revealed the urgent need to raise public awareness of leukaemia and those who it affects.

In the UK, almost 10,000 people will be diagnosed with leukaemia per year, while over 400,000 people are diagnosed worldwide.

Commenting on the results Zack Pemberton-Whiteley, Patient Advocacy Director at national blood cancer charity Leukaemia Care said,

“Leukaemia is a blood cancer, affecting people of all ages, but it can be difficult to spot.

It is extremely worrying to see such a high proportion of the UK public reporting that they wouldn’t visit a GP if experiencing symptoms which could indicate a leukaemia. These include bruising, bleeding, fatigue, fever or night sweats.

Early diagnosis saves lives and improves outcomes. If anybody is experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it’s always worth contacting a GP and requesting a blood test’.




All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2074 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 21st – 24th August 2020.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).




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