Blood cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK, with one in 16 men and one in 22 women developing the disease in their lifetime. There are several different types of blood cancer, however the three most common are leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. To tie in with Blood Cancer Awareness Month, which is taking place throughout September, Dr Panagiotis Kottaridis, Consultant Haematologist at HCA Healthcare UK at University College Hospital, explained to Express.co.uk about acute leukaemia – one of the most common and fast developing forms of blood cancer and reveals the most common symptoms which are often ignored or misdiagnosed.
Dr Panagiotis Kottaridis said: “Blood cancer develops as a result of abnormalities within the blood cells which causes them to malfunction and grow out of control, impacting the body’s normal immune function.
“Acute leukaemia develops quickly and affects the body’s natural ability to develop healthy blood cells. Leukemia causes the overproduction of abnormal white blood cells, which overcrowd the bone marrow, interfering with its ability to make essential red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
“Blood cancer is the third deadliest form of cancer, leading to 15,000 deaths each year – and patients aren’t diagnosed with acute leukaemia until they’re admitted to hospital, often as an emergency. It’s important to know the commonly ignored signs so patients can seek urgent medical advice if they are experiencing symptoms.”
Tiredness is often viewed as an acceptable side effect of modern living, with many people reaching for an afternoon caffeine fix to help them get though the day.
While a busy lifestyle can sometimes be held responsible for feeling sleepy, if you are constantly suffering from extreme tiredness or fatigue even after resting, Dr Kottaridis said it’s important to visit a GP to check for an underlying cause, especially if the tiredness is alongside muscle weakness.
He added: “While fatigue is not often a cause for concern, it could indicate anaemia – a deficiency of red blood cells or haemoglobin in the blood – which is also a common symptom of leukaemia.”