Alarm bell on blood cancer
BLOOD cancer cases will more than double over the next 15 years, claiming the lives of 186,000 Australians and becoming the leading cause of cancer death.
The cost of treating blood cancer is also expected to more than triple to $10.9 billion in that time.
These alarming statistics are contained in a groundbreaking national report. In response the federal government has said it would create a national taskforce and commission an action plan to tackle the growing problem.
Today’s release of the Blood Cancer Can In Australia report shows sho cases in NSW are predicted dic to rise from 5051 this year yea to 12,043 in 2035, while in the ACT it will increase from 220 22 this year to 516 in 2035.
The report reveals blood cancer has been significantly underestimated and under-reported and there are inconsistencies in treatment between city and regional patients and between states s and territories.
However, the number of blood blo cancer deaths could be reduced red by a third by prompt action, act including improving access acc to new treatments and more mo money for research.
The report, commissioned by the Leukaemia Foundation and released to launch Blood Cancer Awareness Month in September, maps for the first time the true size, scale, impact and lived experiences of the disease.
The Leukaemia Foundation has set a bold target of zero deaths from blood cancer by 2035 through a raft of recommendations, including 100 per cent access to genetic screening and making blood cancer a notifiable disease.
The report has identified four key priorities for action — ensuring equity of access to treatment, accelerating research, giving patients greater control over their treatment and recovery, and system-wide health reform.
Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said urgent action was needed to stop and reverse the growing personal and economic cost to Australians.
“The report is telling us that the status quo is not going to cut it and that if we continue down the same path things will only get worse,” Mr Petch said.
“The costs to life and economy will become prohibitive, and in this day and age that’s not acceptable.”
Mr Petch said the report’s most significant finding was the potential to save 22,000 lives over the next 15 years by simply delivering current, bestpractice treatment more consistently and equitably across states and territories and regional and metro Australia.
The report found regional patients were sometimes forced to wait 50 per cent longer to get specialist care.
“Equity of access is the most pressing issue,” Mr Petch said.
“If we improve access pathways and equity to access, it will not only benefit blood cancer but all diseases.
“This is a watershed moment for Australians living with blood cancer and you can see the government is serious about making improvements.”
A spokesman for Health Minister Greg Hunt said more information on the taskforce of experts and a national plan would be announced soon.