Blood Cancer: The Forgotten Fifth

Blood Cancer and MDS, the forgotten cancers

Blood cancer patients are less likely to see their needs fully met than patients with the four most common cancers - breast, colorectal, lung and prostate.

The blood cancer community, via the umbrella group Blood Cancer Alliance, has launched an important new campaign, called the Forgotten Fifth, pointing out that blood cancer is just as dangerous as the 4 main cancers, but often not given the same attention, nor allocated the same resources.

The Forgotten Fifth campaign aims to achieve equal status for blood cancer patients to the other four most common cancer patients, enabling better treatment and faster diagnosis. 

MDS, the most forgotten

In addition, MDS is ‘the forgotten cancer’, as it is often not labelled as a form of cancer, and therefore not captured in data collected by the health authorities. As a support group, we have seen hundreds of cases where diagnosis of MDS was delayed. Delays means impaired quality of life for most patients, frequent infections, or, for a few of them a death sentence.

This campaign reinforces the evidence shown in our national MDS survey.

We are calling for attention to blood cancers, and MDS specifically.

"Neil had a stem cell transplant scheduled for early March. Then UCLH checked his ferritin levels. If you’re having regular transfusions your iron levels should be monitored, Neil’s weren’t. After a year of iron-rich blood transfusions these were found to be stratospheric, so the transplant was put on the back burner in order for these levels to be brought under control. Sadly, this wasn’t a treatment routinely offered by our local NHS Trust due to funding issues."

Read Neil's story >

What are we asking?

  • The Alliance is now calling for the NHS to treat blood cancer patients as equal to those with the four most common cancers in NHS policy making and decision making.
  • As a basic measure, the Alliance is asking that NHS England add data on blood cancer patients to the Cancer Data Dashboard it uses as a key information source for cancer strategies.

Do please point your MP to this campaign, to ensure that blood cancer stops being forgotten. Help us get there, please.

  1. Share your story with your MP. You can find out their email here.
  2. Share the images below on social media and with friends and family.

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