Alarm bell on blood cancer

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS -

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.

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