A survey by Blood Cancer UK found that more than half of adults could not name a single symptom of leukemia despite it being the third largest cause of cancer death in the UK.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of leukemia can be the difference between survival or not, because early diagnosis of the disease is the best chance for successful treatment.
The charity asked participants to list what they believed to be common signs of leukemia. In addition to more than 56 percent of people unable to list a single symptom, only one percent of 2,035 adults reported a fever, and three percent said they experienced shortness of breath.
Awareness of symptoms appears to have declined since 2018, when the same survey found that 52% of people were unable to name their cancer symptoms.
Kate Keatley, Head of Support Services at Blood Cancer UK, said: “Unfortunately, symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss and night sweats can sometimes be ignored or underestimated, and the outcome can be devastating. During the height of the epidemic, we saw far fewer people diagnosed with leukemia. One reason for this could be that some symptoms of leukemia can be confused with “Covid-19”.
According to the charity, which is trying to publicize signs of the disease for Leukemia Awareness Month in September, they said symptoms of leukemia include:
• Unexplained weight loss.
• Unexplained bruising or bleeding.
• Lumps or bulges.
• shortness of breath.
• profuse night sweats.
• Persistent, recurrent and severe infections.
• An unexplained fever (38°C or higher).
• Unexplained rash or itching.
• Pain in the bones, joints or abdomen.
• Fatigue that does not improve with rest or sleep.
• Unusually pale skin.
“If you have unexplained and persistent symptoms, make an appointment urgently with your GP. While it is unlikely that there is anything serious, it is extremely important to get tested,” Keitley added.
According to the NHS, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, the main form of leukemia, usually causes no early symptoms and can only be spotted during a blood test done for another reason.
When symptoms do develop, they may include:
• Getting infected often.
• Anemia – constant fatigue, shortness of breath and pale skin.
• Bleeding and bruising easier than usual.
• High temperature.
• Sweat Lily.
• Swollen glands in the neck, armpit or groin.
• Swelling and discomfort in your abdomen.
• Unintended weight loss.
The findings from Leukemia UK highlight the urgent need to raise public awareness of leukemia and the symptoms of the disease.