Low levels of awareness of how people can help save the life of someone with blood cancer

A poll commissioned for Blood Cancer Awareness Month has found that most people don’t know how they can save the lives of someone with a blood cancer. September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month and a Populus poll of 1,000 people, that was commissioned by blood cancer charity DKMS, found that four out of five people (83%) were unaware that you could find out whether you could be a matching blood stem cell donor to help save the life of someone with blood cancer by using a mouth swab.

The poll also found that:

87% were unaware that, if you matched with a patient seeking a blood stem cell donor to help save their life, 90% of donations are made via a blood stem cell donation, which is performed as an out-patient procedure and a general anaesthetic is not required.

87% were unaware that, if you matched with a patient seeking a blood stem cell donor to help save their life, only 10% of donations were made via bone marrow donation. (A bone marrow donation is when the blood stem cells are collected from the bone marrow at the back of the hip bone. The procedure is carried out under general anaesthetic so that no pain is experienced).

78% were unaware that those aged 17 to 55, and generally in good health, can register to donate some blood stem cells to help save the life of those with a blood cancer.

The poll also found a lack of awareness of how frequently blood cancer is diagnosed.

67% were unaware that someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer every 20 minutes. Most of those surveyed thought it was less frequently diagnosed in the UK, with some even thinking that someone was diagnosed with a blood cancer as infrequently as once a week (4%).

Blood cancer charity DKMS wants to raise awareness that most people aged between 17 and 55 could be a potential life saver. DKMS is now urging the public to register as potential blood stem cell donors this month to help save the lives of blood cancer patients. A blood stem cell donation is the only chance of survival for many blood cancer patients. Sadly, many patients will not find a matching donor. This isn’t because a match doesn’t exist, it’s simply because there aren’t enough people registered as donors. That is why DKMS works to increase the size and diversity of the blood stem cell registry.

Caroline Portlock, Head of Donor Recruitment at the charity, said:

“Every 20 minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer like leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma. Registering as a potential blood stem cell donor only takes a few minutes but it could lead to you giving decades to someone else. It could be one of the most important things you ever do. So I would encourage everyone aged 17 to 55 to take a few minutes during Blood Cancer Awareness Month to register online at our website www.dkms.org.uk and request a cheek swab kit”