A new poll looking at leukaemia awareness in Great Britain has revealed that men are almost twice as likely not to recognise leukaemia as a cancer compared to women

Over one in ten men (11%) had not heard of leukaemia, compared to 6% of women. Moreover, 14% of men were unaware that the disease was a cancer, compared to 8% of women.

Over 9,500 people are diagnosed with leukaemia in the UK every year, meaning that leukaemia is the 12th most common cancer diagnosis in the UK.

The results of the poll, conducted by YouGov and published for Blood Cancer Awareness Month this September, also revealed thatalmost a quarter (23%) of respondents were unable to correctly identify any leukaemia symptoms. Again, there was a marked difference between the sexes, with only 15% of women unable to correctly to identify a leukaemia symptom, compared to 32% of men.

The six most common signs of leukaemia are fatigue, feeling weak or breathless, fever or night sweats, easily bruising or bleeding, pain in bones or joints and frequent infections. Of those surveyed, 23% of men said they would not visit a medical professional if experiencing any of the six most common symptoms, compared to 14% of women.

Awareness of leukaemia is crucial with those who had not previously heard of leukaemia being twice as likely to say that they would NOT visit a medical professional if they were experiencing any common leukaemia symptoms (16%) compared to those who had heard of the term leukaemia (7%).

The charity Leukaemia Care commissioned the survey to gauge leukaemia awareness across the UK. Each day, 27 people are diagnosed with a leukaemia and early diagnosis can improve outcomes and ultimately, save lives.

The survey also revealed that 33% of people believed that leukaemia was most commonly diagnosed in children aged 0-15. Leukaemia is the most common childhood cancer, but the charity is keen to highlight the fact that leukaemia affects people of all ages. In fact, 64% of all leukaemia cases in the UK are diagnosed in those aged 65 years or older. Just 5% of people correctly identified that leukaemia is most prevalent in this older age group.

Zack Pemberton-Whiteley, Campaigns and Advocacy Director at Leukaemia Care said, “Leukaemia is a blood cancer that affects people of all ages. It can be hard to spot because the symptoms are common to other illnesses. Early diagnosis saves lives and so, ensuring you can spot the signs and symptoms of leukaemia is hugely important.

If you are experiencing clusters of symptoms such as fatigue, bruising or bleeding, fever or night sweats, infections that you can’t shake off, pain in bones or joints or feeling weak or breathless, please visit your GP. Even if it is not leukaemia, these symptoms warrant medical attention. If there is something that needs investigating, it can then be done in a swift and timely manner.

Leukaemia Care launched the Spot Leukaemia campaign in response to our own survey of leukaemia patients which revealed a need for greater awareness of this type of blood cancer so we’re urging the general public to take a minute to learn the key signs and symptoms and to act on them if something simply doesn’t feel right”.

To help raise awareness, Leukaemia Care have produced a free symptoms card which can be downloaded from their website, or hard copies can be ordered free of charge. To learn more about leukaemia and to order the materials, go to www.spotleukaemia.org.uk


Notes to editors:

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2005 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 24th – 28th August 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

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