Myeloma UK is working in partnership with a group of key myeloma and healthcare professionals to improve diagnosis rates for myeloma patients.
Myeloma has one of the highest rates of delays in diagnosis of any cancer, with one-third (34%) of patients diagnosed through emergency routes rather than GP referral.
A study has also shown that one in five patients see their GP five or more times before being referred to a haematology consultant.
Early diagnosis is key to the Myeloma UK goal of improving survival and quality of life for myeloma patients. As part of this work, we recently set up a working group to look at early diagnosis in myeloma.
The Myeloma Early Diagnosis Working Group is formed of 12 leading specialists in the UK. These haematologists, GPs and researchers have been brought together to share their knowledge and expertise in order to identify and implement best practice when it comes to early diagnosis of myeloma.
Dr Fenella Willis, Consultant Haematologist at St George’s Hospital in London, chairs the Myeloma Early Diagnosis Working Group.
She explains, “The rarity of myeloma and its vague symptoms means that for many patients the diagnosis is not straightforward and often delayed. A key aim for the group is to identify best practice in terms of diagnosing myeloma and streamlining how healthcare professionals identify and act on symptoms of myeloma to reduce delays.”
The group is looking at all the potential factors and barriers which may contribute to a delay in diagnosis across primary (GP surgery) care and secondary (hospital and A&E) care, providing a joined-up and sustained approach to early diagnosis work. The group will be instrumental in developing shared approaches to research and best practice across the UK.
Fenella added, “We’re lucky to have gathered such an experienced and diverse group of experts in this field. Together, we hope to devise a robust and inspiring approach to improving early diagnosis of myeloma, setting the standard for across the UK.”
As part of its initial work the group reviewed the Myeloma Diagnosis Pathway, an easy-to-follow visual tool developed by Myeloma UK. This tool will help GPs and other healthcare professionals better recognise the signs and symptoms of myeloma, and identify the next steps needed to pursue a quick diagnosis.
Monica Morris, Healthcare Professional Programme Manager at Myeloma UK, says, “We’ve already received a fantastic response to the Myeloma Diagnosis Pathway and hope it will really make a difference to future myeloma patients’ lives.
“Throughout Myeloma Awareness Week, we’re asking patients, supporters and healthcare professionals to share and distribute the Myeloma Diagnosis Pathway to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of myeloma across the UK.”
Monica adds, “Myeloma UK is committed to reducing the time to diagnosis; this means ensuring that myeloma symptoms are recognised and acted on as quickly as possible, so that myeloma patients have timely treatment, and improved outcomes and quality of life.”
You can help us support myeloma patients by sharing a copy of our Myeloma Diagnosis Pathway with your local GP or healthcare professional – sign up to do so here.
The Early Diagnosis Working Group is made up of:
Dr Fenella Willis (Consultant Haematologist) – St George’s Hospital, London
Dr Stella Bowcock (Consultant Haematologist) – Kings College Hospital, London and Princess Royal Hospital, Orpington
Dr Hugh Brown (General Practitioner) – Dalmellington Health Centre, Ayrshire
Prof Mark Drayson (Director of Clinical Immunology) – Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham
Dr Sophie Lindsay (Specialist Registrar) – St George’s Hospital, London
Prof Tom Marshall (Professor of Public Health and Primary Care) – University of Birmingham
Prof Atul Mehta (Consultant Haematologist) – Royal Free Hospital, London
Prof Richard Neal (Professor of Primary Care Oncology) – University of Leeds
Dr Guy Pratt (Consultant Haematologist) – Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham
Dr Hamdi Sati (Consultant Haematologist) – Singleton Hospital, Swansea
Dr Simon Stern (Consultant Haematologist) – St Helier Hospital, Carshalton
Monica Morris (HCP Programme Manager) – Myeloma UK