BLOOD cancer remains on track to steal the lives of thousands of Australians with every passing year, with the Leukaemia Foundation today issuing a call to arms to bolster the plight of the 275,000 people expected to be living with the disease by 2035.
Leukaemia Foundation CEO Chris Tanti said World Blood Cancer Awareness Day (May 28) represents a critical moment in time to spotlight the alarming truths about the cancer which continues to claim 5,600 Australian lives annually2.
“The disturbing reality with this cancer is it’s in your blood – it doesn’t originate in a particular organ or area of the body as a solid mass. Instead it develops in the very life force that we each rely on to pump around our bodies every day,” he said.
“What is more frightening is that blood cancer does not discriminate – it can develop in anyone right now, it can occur at any age and at any stage of life across all states and territories, and there are no screening programs to detect it and no way to prevent it through lifestyle change.”
Recent figures show blood cancers combined are now the second most diagnosed cancers in Australia and the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the country. More than 17,300 Australians were diagnosed with a blood cancer such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma last year, and come 2035, more than twice as many Australians will be diagnosed with one annually. It is also expected that up to 186,000 lives will be lost to blood cancer between 2019 and 20353 4 .
“Blood cancer incidence rates are continuing to climb and this complex set of diseases are continuing to claim lives, and without urgent action, there is no end in sight,” Mr Tanti said.
“We are fighting a devastating war and to win it we need every Australian to hear our call now and unite with us today to fight together. The lives of tens of thousands of Australian children, women and men literally depend on it.”
Mr Tanti said in Australia today, 47 people across the country will have developed a blood cancer, but for some people the disease may still be lying undetected or undiagnosed.
“Blood cancer symptoms can sometimes be subtle or similar to other conditions such as a virus, often making it a silent disease that can be tricky to catch – but if it remains unchecked, the consequences can be devastating,” he said.
“That is why we urge all Australians not to postpone trips to their doctor and to address any health concerns immediately. Ongoing symptoms such as recurrent infections, increased fatigue or bruising or enlarged lymph nodes should be urgently discussed with your GP.”
The national blood cancer community has united with a shared vision to see zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035, guided by Australia’s first National Strategic Action Plan for Blood Cancer which aims to catalyse health system reform, to accelerate research, to enable access to novel and specialised therapies and to empower patients. But Mr Tanti said the community needed the help of every Australian to achieve this goal.
“Every day the Leukaemia Foundation is walking alongside every Australian living with blood cancer and fighting to ensure they have equitable access to the treatment, information, care and support they need to survive and live well after a blood cancer diagnosis, wherever they live,” he said.
“But we can’t walk this path alone. We need every Australian’s support to build awareness and understanding about blood cancer to create a future free from these diseases. With more lives being lost to it with every passing day, time is ticking, and there is truly no time to waste to cure and conquer blood cancer.”
If you or someone you love is diagnosed with a blood cancer, reach out to the Leukaemia Foundation on 1800 620 420. For more information about blood cancer, visit leukaemia.org.au.