Campaigners have welcomed figures showing a sharp upsurge in GP referrals for haematological malignancy.
The number of these referrals increased by 18% last year, according to NHS England statistics published yesterday.
Campaigners believe the increase reflects increased awareness among patients and GPs about these diseases.
According to the figures, in the 12 months up to March this year, GPs made 18,877 urgent referrals to haematology specialists for suspected cases of cancer.
This compared with 16,009 the previous year.
The charity Bloodwise said the figures could reflect improved awareness among GPs of symptoms in recent months. It said that high profile cases might also have encouraged patients to visit GPs with persistent symptoms.
Its director of research Dr Alasdair Rankin said: “It is interesting to see that more GPs are urgently referring people with possible blood cancer symptoms to specialists. Blood cancer symptoms can be vague and easily confused with other conditions such as flu or being run down.
“However, we know that early diagnosis can make a big difference to an individual’s chance of survival as well as to their quality of life. We would encourage all GPs to refer patients with any possible blood cancer symptoms for an immediate blood test, as recommended by a group of MPs earlier in the year.”
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