Twenty Australian children, adults, parents and grandparents are losing their lives every day as blood cancer becomes one of the nation’s most diagnosed and deadly killers.
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Sadly, that number is projected to more than double by 2035, and around 186,000 Australians could lose their lives to the disease in the next 15 years, according to the Leukaemia Foundation’s recently released State of the Nation: Blood Cancer in Australia report.
Today, on World Cancer Day, Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch has launched the annual World’s Greatest Shave campaign urging Australians to continue to support the fight against blood cancer as the organisation prepares for a massive jump in demand for its services and begins paving the way for a new national, collaborative approach to help save the lives of Australians fighting the disease.
“The first of its kind, State of the Nation report looks at the impact of blood cancers across the country and provides evidence showing that blood cancers are also under-reported,” Mr Petch said.
“We now know that the true size, scale and impact of blood cancer in Australia has been significantly underestimated, potentially leading to inconsistency and inadequacy of funding and service delivery.”
The State of the Nation: Blood Cancer in Australia report shows that not only is there an urgent call to better meet the needs of those currently living with blood cancer, but that demand on support services is going to grow substantially in the next 15 years.
Every day, 41 Australians will be told they have blood cancer and 110,000 Australians are currently living with the disease. According to the report, these numbers are also projected to more than double by 2035 to 100 people diagnosed with blood cancer every day and more than 275,000 living with the disease.
Mr Petch said the report also found the cost to the health system of treating and caring for people with blood cancer is projected to increase to over $10.9 billion in 2035 – up from $3.4 billion annually today. The total cost to the Australian economy is also expected to reach $71.9 billion a year by 2035 – more than triple today’s annual estimated cost of $22.9 billion.
“Blood cancer is and will continue to be an issue for all Australians and there is an urgent need for collaborative action to help meet the needs of those living with the disease, today and into the future.”
With the support of the Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt, the Leukaemia Foundation has established the Blood Cancer Taskforce, which includes 30 of Australia’s leading blood cancer experts and stakeholders, to deliver Australia’s first National Strategic Action Plan for Blood Cancer.
“It’s the first time in Australian history that the issue of blood cancer has been put under the national microscope, and now we are working collaboratively on a National Action Plan to catalyse health system reform, help accelerate research, enable access to novel and specialised therapies and most importantly, to empower patients. The aim is to create a future where all Australians receive the best treatment available and not only survive their disease, but thrive with all of the support they need.”
Co-chaired by Mr Petch and Professor John Seymour (Director of Cancer Medicine, Clinical Research and Haematology, Peter MacCallum Centre), the Taskforce includes leaders of the Australian blood cancer community such as Prof. Sanchia Aranda AM (Cancer Council), Richard Vines (Rare Cancers Australia), Elizabeth De Somer (Medicines Australia), and Prof Andrew Roberts (WEHI) and Prof David Gottlieb ( Westmead Hospital).
“The Leukaemia Foundation is proud and privileged to stand with Australia’s incredibly talented and diverse blood cancer community to make sure everyone has access to the best care, to accelerate research delivering rapid advancements and to empower people with blood cancer to live well,” he said.
“We’re not going to stop until together, we have conquered one of Australia’s most prevalent and deadly cancers.”
Mr Petch said the Leukaemia Foundation was determined to achieve its bold new goal to see zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035, and the organisation is calling on the national community to help make this vision a reality.
“The funds raised by World’s Greatest Shave are vital to improve and save lives, so we urge all Australians to take a stand against blood cancer by rallying together, signing up and getting sponsored to bravely shave their heads or cut or colour their hair in 2020,” he said.
Join the fight against blood cancer by registering for World’s Greatest Shave at www.worldsgreatestshave.com