Australia’s first strategic action plan for blood cancers

As part of the 2020/21 Budget, the Morrison Government will provide more than $600,000 to the Leukaemia Foundation as part of Australia’s first National Strategic Action Plan for Blood Cancer.

Blood cancers, including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma, are estimated to account for more than one in 10 cancer deaths in Australia this year.

The number of blood cancers diagnosed each year is on the rise, from around 12,500 new cases in 2010 to an estimated 17,300 in 2020. While survival rates are improving, it is estimated that there will be more than 5,600 deaths from blood cancer this year.

The National Strategic Action Plan will deliver continued support for people battling blood cancers.

Throughout the Blood Cancer Awareness Month of September, there is no better time to shine a light on the tireless work of the Leukaemia Foundation and its efforts to bring Australia’s first comprehensive plan to improve outcomes for people diagnosed with blood cancer to life.

Our Government is committed to ensuring Australia is equipped to deal with the challenges of blood cancer and the need for a coordinated and strategic national response.

This funding will deliver Optimal Care Pathways for blood cancer patients, and enable the Blood Cancer Taskforce to continue its vital work, providing strategic oversight of the implementation until the end of next year.

Optimal Care Pathways will provide wide ranging, evidence-based recommendations for best practice care, from the point of diagnosis, through treatment, survivorship and end-of-life care.

The Blood Cancer Taskforce, made up of representatives from leading Australian haematologists, researchers, and cancer charities, will continue in their roles of coordination of the blood cancer community and implementation of actions in this National Action Plan.

This announcement builds on the $150,000 provided in 2019-20 to establish the expert Blood Cancer Taskforce to develop the National Strategic Action Plan for Blood Cancer.

The plan was developed in consultation between governments, researchers, non-government organisations, health care professionals, industry, patients, carers and advocacy groups.

This commitment adds to our Government’s significant investment to combat blood cancer, including more than $310 million for blood cancer research from 2013-2019, through the National Health and Medical Research Council, Medical Research Future Fund and Cancer Australia.

The Morrison Government has also delivered more than $5 billion for blood cancer medicines through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from 2013-14 to 2018-19.

Our Government recently provided access to ground-breaking CAR-T cell therapy for several types of Leukaemia and lymphoma.

CAR T-cell therapy uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. The patients T cells are extracted from the body, genetically reengineered and programmed to recognise and destroy cancer cells, and then reimplanted into the body.

Together with states and territories, the Government currently provides access to Kymriah, a CAR-T cell therapy, through specialist hospitals.

We thank the Leukaemia Foundation for their advocacy and look forward to continue working with them and other partners in implementing this Strategic Action Plan.

The National Strategic Action Plan for Blood Cancer is available at www.leukaemia.org.au

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