This September, for Blood Cancer Awareness Month, Leukaemia Care is teaming up with OPAAL to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of leukaemia in the 65+ community as part of Leukaemia Care’s Spot Leukaemia campaign and the launch of OPAAL’s Advocacy Checklist.
Contrary to popular belief, nearly 65% of all leukaemia cases are diagnosed in people aged 65 and over; leukaemia is not just a childhood disease. Despite this statistic, older patients are less likely to know that leukaemia is a type of cancer. In fact, 740 deaths of people over the age of 65 could be prevented each year if the UK survival rates for leukaemia matched the best in Europe.
Leukaemia can be hard to spot because the signs and symptoms are common to other unrelated illnesses. This is especially true for people aged 65 and over as they may have additional complex health needs, making it harder to distinguish potential cancer signs and symptoms from other health issues. In fact, GPs are twice as likely to refer older patients as a non-urgent referral (i.e., cancer was not suspected) most likely due to leukaemia presentation getting confused with signs of ageing or other pre-existing health conditions. The signs and symptoms most common in those aged 65 and over are fatigue, bruising or bleeding, swollen lymph nodes, feeling weak or breathless, a fever, and weight loss.
Leukaemia Care and OPAAL have created a guide to help the public to spot leukaemia in the 65+ community and Leukaemia Care will be doing a social media takeover on OPAAL’s Facebook Page @OpaalTogether during the first week of September to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of leukaemia.
Spread the word. Share the symptoms. Spot leukaemia early.