Australians living with blood cancer set to double: Call for support

Today, six Australians will be told they have the blood cancer myeloma, and up to three people will lose their lives to the disease1. With the number of myeloma diagnoses set to more than double by 20352 , the Leukaemia Foundation is urgently stepping up its support and advocacy for Australians battling the blood cancer and is calling for your support. 
Leukaemia Foundation CEO Chris Tanti said while treatment options and survival rates for some blood cancers are improving, the reality is myeloma is not preventable or curable and survival rates can be as low as 53 per cent3

The impact on diagnosed patients is incredibly confronting which is why the Leukaemia Foundation, in conjunction with Myeloma Australia, are hosting a free live-streamed educational seminar with leading medical specialists on Saturday 29 May 2021. The online event will share the latest information about the disease and available treatments, as well as connect patients and carers with leading clinicians and supportive care options across the country.

“We know that there has been a significant increase in diagnosis of myeloma over the past decade and that this rise is projected to continue. Myeloma Awareness Month takes place for the full duration of May, and this is the perfect time to have a conversation about the disease, educate people on the signs and symptoms and ensure more people understand the impact it’s having on so many Australians across the country. Mr Tanti said.  

Over the past 10 years, there has been a 60 per cent increase in the incidence of myeloma in Australia. Today, myeloma accounts for approximately 15 per cent of all blood cancers with around 20,000 Australians currently living with the disease. 95 per cent of people living with myeloma are aged 50 years and over4.
“For over 45 years, our Blood Cancer Support Coordinators have supported people living with myeloma to be their voice and their someone-to-turn-to. We will continue to stand with every Australian affected by this disease, no matter their location, age, race, gender or status and continue to work with the broader blood cancer community towards the shared vision to see zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035.” Mr Tanti said 

Myeloma Educational Seminar:

  • Title: Future Directions in Myeloma Management and Treatment
  • Date: Saturday 29 May, 10am-12pm EST
  • Speakers: A/Prof Hang Quach, St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne; Dr Kate Van Dyke, SAHMRI, Adelaide; and Dr Nick Weber, Royal Women’s Hospital, Brisbane
  • Registration:  
The Leukaemia Foundation produces a series of disease specific newsletters including Myeloma News, and invites all Australians living with the disease to subscribe to ongoing information and to contact the Leukaemia Foundation for support.
For more information or to register for the educational seminars, please visit.

What is Myeloma:

Myeloma, also known as multiple myeloma, is a complex blood cancer affecting the body’s plasma cells, which produce antibodies. Myeloma develops when plasma cells undergo a cancerous change and multiply at an increasing rate, taking over the bone marrow. Patients experience weaker bones which are more prone to breaking, as well as bone pain, kidney damage, frequent infections, anaemia and increased bleeding and bruising.

Myeloma Facts:

  • Myeloma is not a skin cancer. Rather, it is an incurable blood cancer.
  • Currently, 2,339 people are diagnosed with myeloma each year, however it is expected 4,952 people will be diagnosed with this type of blood cancer in 2035. Sadly, 1,054 Australians lose their life to myeloma each year, and this figure is projected to triple by 2035 – increasing to 3,037 people. 
  • Myeloma affects multiple places in the body such as the spine, skull, pelvis and ribs, which is why it’s often referred to as multiple myeloma. 
  • Myeloma is slightly more prevalent in men. 
  • The cause(s) of myeloma remains unknown. There is no cure for myeloma, however it is controllable in most people. Advancements in research and treatment enable those impacted by myeloma to live better and longer lives.
  • Treatment for myeloma can be very effective at controlling the disease, relieving its symptoms and complications, and prolonging life. Treatments for myeloma include targeted therapies and immunotherapy drugs, chemotherapy, steroids and stem cell transplants.
  • In 2010, 1,449 Australians were diagnosed with Myeloma, this number increased by 60% to 2,339 Australians in 20205.
Myeloma signs and symptoms:
The symptoms of myeloma depend on how advanced the disease is. In the earliest stages, there may be no symptoms and myeloma is then detected during a routine blood test. The most common symptoms include bone pain (usually felt in the back or ribs), bone fractures, persistent tiredness, dizziness, paleness (due to anaemia), frequent or repeated infections (such as bacterial pneumonia, urinary tract infections and shingles), increased or unexplained bleeding or bruising or kidney damage and a high level of calcium in the blood (hypercalcaemia).

About The Leukaemia Foundation:
The Leukaemia Foundation stands with Australia to help cure and conquer blood cancer – with care. Together we are attacking every blood cancer, from every direction, in every way we can. We stand beside every Australian to be their voice and their someone-to-turn-to, fighting to get them access to the best care. We also accelerate research that’s delivering rapid advancements in blood cancer diagnosis and treatments. Plus, we provide services and support that empower people living with any blood cancer to live well after diagnosis. 

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