Slovenia records 50% decrease in blood cancers diagnosed in past 2 years

Sladki Vrh – Due to restricted access to GPs over the past two years, half as many blood cancers have been diagnosed as before the Covid-19 epidemic, heard a roundtable on Tuesday mark Blood Disease Awareness Month.

Despite the 50% drop, the treatment of patients remains as successful as in the pre-Covid period with patients reporting that secondary level treatment, once the disease has been identified, has been even more effective, said the participants of the roundtable, held by the Aetas organisation.

Covid-19 has posed a major threat to cancer patients, so their treatment should be uninterrupted, said Kristina Modic, the head of the Slovenian Association of Lymphoma and Leukaemia Patients, noting that time was of the essence for successful treatment.

The signs and symptoms of blood cancers are underestimated because they are difficult to recognise, said Anica Kralj Štimec, vice-president of the Association of Blood Disease Patients of Slovenia.

Blood tests are key to identify blood diseases, particularly in the early stages. Experts say blood diseases have very general symptoms, such as fatigue, sweating and bone pain, which makes it all the more important to see a GP. Infections, bleeding and hardening of the skin are also more common due to a compromised immune system.

Blood diseases are not only a burden on the individual, but also on society at large. In 2019, 154,000 people died of them in Europe with 8% of all cancers in Europe being blood-related.

Efforts to raise awareness among patients are also key. Patients can be optimistic about the future, as nowadays there are many drugs that can alleviate symptoms as well as cure them, noted haematologist Irena Preložnik Zupan.

This year’s awareness month will be dedicated, among other things, to presentations on rare blood diseases.