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World awareness day for Australia's most common blood cancer this Sunday



A recent report released by the Leukaemia Foundation has revealed the true size and impact of the blood cancer lymphoma in Australia is far greater than was previously known. 

The report shows currently around 6500 Australians will be diagnosed every year with a lymphoma making it Australia's most common blood cancer. Sadly, 1600 Australians will lose their life to the disease.  

The report also reveals that by 2035, these rates will almost triple. By then, 17,000 Australians are expected to be diagnosed with lymphoma, and more than 5000 will lose their fight with the disease.  

Sunday, September 15 is World Lymphoma Awareness Day and the Leukaemia Foundation is highlighting the staggering new findings of the State of the Nation: Blood Cancer in Australia Report, which reveal lymphoma’s currently account for around 40 percent of all blood cancer diagnosis, and around 30 per cent of all blood cancer related deaths. 

There are two main types of lymphoma – Hodgkins lymphoma (HL) and the far more common non-Hodgkins lymphoma (NHL) which can be broken into more than 30 unique sub-types.  

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said while survival rates for lymphoma had improved significantly – as high as 87 per cent for some types of lymphomas – lives could be saved by accelerating research and improving access to the best possible treatments for all Australians. 

"Blood cancer is at the forefront of new, precision medicines which have helped improve treatment pathways and survival rates, but we can do better,” Mr Petch said. 

“The report shows us that we can steer toward a future where no Australian will die from lymphoma,” Mr Petch said. 
 

The Leukaemia Foundation has set a bold new goal to achieve zero lives lost to blood cancer, including lymphoma, by 2035. 

“To achieve this, we need to collaborate to ensure every Australian has access to the right information, the best treatments and services, and the latest trials, tests and diagnostic tools that will not only help them to survive, but also to live well.” 

The first of its kind, State of the Nation: Blood Cancer in Australia Report was released on September 1 to launch Blood Cancer Awareness month, and led Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt to announce Australia's first Blood Cancer Taskforce to develop a National Action Plan to help tackle the key issues facing the blood cancer community today, and into the future.  

"The formation of the Taskforce and the development of a National Action Plan mark a major milestone for the blood cancer community and will set the national agenda around blood cancer for many years to come." 

The new Blood Cancer Taskforce will meet for the first time on September 30. 

For more information about lymphoma, and to register for the Leukaemia Foundation's disease specific newsletter Lymphoma News, go to https://www.leukaemia.org.au/disease-information/lymphomas/ 

What is Lymphoma? 

  • Lymphoma is the general term for cancers that develop in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is made up of a vast network of vessels (similar to blood vessels) that branch out into all the tissues of the body.  

  • These vessels contain lymph, a colourless watery fluid that carries lymphocytes, which are specialized white blood cells that fight infection.  

  • There are two types of lymphocytes, B-lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes (also called B-cells and T-cells). These cells protect us by making antibodies and destroying harmful microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses. 

  • Lymphoma originates in developing B-lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes, which have undergone a malignant change. This means that they multiply without any proper order, forming tumours which are collections of cancer cells. These tumours cause swelling in the lymph nodes and other parts of the body. 

  • Over time, malignant lymphocytes (called lymphoma cells) crowd out normal lymphocytes and eventually the immune system becomes weakened and can no longer function properly.  

The Leukaemia Foundation’s State of the Nation: Blood Cancer in Australia Report shows: 

  • Today, Lymphoma accounts for 40 per cent of all blood cancer diagnosis each year and is the most commonly diagnosed blood cancer in Australia todayNon-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) (37 per cent) is much more common than Hodgkin Lymphoma (HL) (5 per cent) 

  • In Australia it's more common to be diagnosed with a lymphoma than with leukaemia 

  • There are more than 50 different sub types of lymphoma 

  • Currently, the five-year survival rate for all NHLs combined is 74 per cent. For HL the five-year survival rate is 87 per cent 

  • The number of Australians diagnosed with lymphoma each year will jump from 6400 today to more than 17,000 by 2035 

  • Out of the projected 275,000 Australians who will be living with blood cancer by 2035, lymphomas will account for 158,000  

  • It's expected 64,140 Australians with lymphoma will die between 2019 and 2035 

To view the full State of the Nation: Blood Cancer in Australia Report at  https://www.leukaemia.org.au/about-us/mylifecounts/stateofthenation/  

For all media enquiries or to coordinate an interview, please contact media@leukaemia.org.au or call 0478 300 507