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Crawley MP calls on Prime Minister to make blood cancer visible

Henry Smith MP pushed for further focus on blood cancer awareness, diagnosis and prevention in the House of Commons on Wednesday (5 Sept).

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Crawley MP and All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Blood Cancer Chair Henry Smith has backed a campaign to raise awareness of blood cancer and put it at the forefront of the Government’s cancer plans, including highlighting the issue during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons.

Prime Minister Theresa May, responded to Mr Smith, and congratulated him on his work.

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Henry said:

“Over the last few days I’ve hosted the blood cancer research charity Bloodwise in Parliament and welcomed MPs to meet with the organisation, and find out more about the UK’s fifth most common cancer – alarmingly this country’s third biggest cancer killer.

“In spite of this, awareness of blood cancers among the general public and policy-makers is low. It was really insightful to hear from people directly affected by blood cancers and to understand more about how care can be improved.

“I’ve also chaired the latest meeting of the Blood Cancer APPG, where representatives from the Royal College of Pathologists, Leukaemia Care and Myeloma UK spoke about the importance of early diagnosis for patients.

“I welcome NHS England’s announcement this week that new CAR-T therapy, which uses the immune system to kill cancer cells, will be made available to children and young people with a form of leukaemia.

“In June of this year I was delighted to chair a panel of the Cancer APPG on CAR-T therapy. We were joined by colleagues from Anthony Nolan, Macmillan Cancer Support, Bloodwise, University College London, the NHS and the Blood Cancer APPG. While this week’s developments are welcome we’ll continue to campaign for further support for patients.

“Raising awareness is vital, so to have the opportunity to highlight support for blood cancer patients at Prime Minister’s Questions this week was extremely important in keeping this issue on the Government’s agenda.”

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month, with organisations including Bloodwise supporting the Make Blood Cancer Visible campaign. Blood cancers are the fifth most common type of cancer in the UK and the third biggest cause of cancer death in this country. Over 40,000 people are diagnosed with a blood cancer or related blood disorder each year in Britain.

On Wednesday, 5th September, Henry questioned the Prime Minister about the announcement made by NHS England just hours earlier, where it was confirmed that children and young people with a form of leukaemia are set to become the first in Europe to receive CAR-T therapy.

CAR-T therapy is a new type of therapy that uses the immune system to kill cancer cells. It could offer people with certain hard-to-treat blood cancers the chance for long-term survival, or even a cure.

On the same day, the Crawley MP was the first participant on Bloodwise’s Twitter Takeover, where blood cancer patients, ambassadors and advocates post on the charity’s social media feed to tell their own stories of blood cancer support and what can be done to provide greater assistance.

Earlier in the week (Tuesday, 4th September), Henry hosted an event organised by Bloodwise in Westminster Hall. He heard about the issues that face people with blood cancers like leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma and spoke to patients about their experiences.

Later that day, the Crawley MP chaired the latest meeting of the Blood Cancer APPG, which he set up in 2016 and has chaired since its formation. The Group published its inaugural report – ‘The ‘Hidden’ Cancer: The Need to Improve Blood Cancer Care’ – in January of this year.

Among its recommendations were that GPs should immediately request a blood test for anyone presenting with one or more symptoms of blood cancer. These include general fatigue, night sweats, weight loss, or bruising, all of which can be mistaken for other, less serious conditions such as being run down or flu.

Gemma Peters, Chief Executive of Bloodwise, commented:

“We are delighted that Henry Smith MP is supporting our campaign to raise awareness of blood cancer.

“As one in 19 are affected by blood cancer it is vital that blood cancer is central to the Government’s cancer plans going forward.”

Henry Smith, Member of Parliament for Crawley, asked the Prime Minister:

“This September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month, and I am therefore delighted that it was announced yesterday that the NHS will provide innovative CAR-T cell immune therapy to under-25s—the first health system in Europe to do so.

“I seek assurances from my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that a focus on blood cancer awareness, diagnosis and prevention will continue into the future.”

The Prime Minister, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, responded:

“I commend my hon. Friend for the work that he has done to champion the cause of blood cancer and raise a much greater awareness of the issue.

“I can assure him that we will continue to press on and raise awareness of the issue, and I, too, am pleased that the decision that was announced yesterday was able to be made.

“I congratulate him, because he has personally campaigned on this and championed this cause.”

Health & Wellbeing

Don’t miss out on the Lymphoedema Awareness Workshop at Crawley Hospital

The workshop is being held in March.

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As part of Lymphoedema Awareness Week 2019, which is 3rd – 9th March, the Olive Tree Cancer Support Centre is holding a Lymphoedema Information and Education Workshop on Wednesday 6th March 2-4 p.m at
The Olive Tree Cancer Support Centre, Wentworth House, Crawley Hospital, West Green Drive, Crawley RH11 7DH.

This workshop will be led by Yvette Jordan, UK Lymphology Clinics Training Director and she will be supported by Olive Tree volunteer therapists Anna Parsons and Juliette Cross.

Affecting 1 in 5 patients, lymphoedema is a distressing condition and a known side effect of cancer treatment. It is caused because the flow of fluid within the lymphatic system has been disrupted because of surgery and having lymph nodes removed. 

This makes it harder for the lymph fluid to drain away which means that this excess fluid can then build up between the tissues and cause swelling of the arm, leg or surrounding area. 

Lymphoedema can develop weeks, months or even years after cancer treatment but early diagnosis by healthcare professionals and treatment by specialist lymphoedema therapists can help to reduce the severity of the condition.

Attendance will be of great value to anyone affected by cancer, including patients and healthcare professionals and will provide everything they need to know about lymphoedema. 

Topics covered will include:

• What is Lymphoedema?

• How does Lymphoedema happen?

• Who is most at risk?

• Recognising clinical signs of early Lymphoedema

• Best methods and early applications for a preventative approach

• Questions and answers

Yvette Jordan, who will be leading the workshop said:

“Much more awareness is needed with early intervention which is essential to help patients manage this disabling disease”.

To book your place on this informative workshop for 2-4 p.m. please call 01293 534465

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