Blood cancers when combined are now the second most diagnosed cancer in Australia and the second highest cause of cancer related deaths, new figures released from the Leukaemia Foundation have revealed.
The rise mirrors a 30% increase in rates of blood cancer over the past decade and a similar spike in demand for the organisation’s services as more Australians living with blood cancer seek support.
The Foundation’s newly-appointed CEO, Chris Tanti, said the latest findings make the 2021 World’s Greatest Shave campaign, which launches today, one of the most critically important in the organisation’s history.
“These new findings confirm that we really are dealing with some of the nation’s most diagnosed and deadly cancer killers – and that there is simply no time to waste to cure and conquer blood cancer,” he said.
“Last year alone, 17,321 people were diagnosed with a blood cancer such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma, and we know that come 2035, more than twice as many Australians will be diagnosed with one annually – which means more people than ever are going to be seeking the Leukaemia Foundation’s support into the future.”
According to latest figures, breast cancer was Australia’s most commonly diagnosed cancer (19,974) in 2020 across all ages, followed by blood cancers combined (17,321), prostate cancer (16,741) melanoma of the skin (16,221) and lung cancer (13,258).
Lung cancer topped Australia’s most deadly cancer in 2020 with 8,641 deaths, followed by blood cancers combined 5,631, colorectal cancer 5,322, pancreas cancer 3,300 and prostate cancer 3,152.
Now in its 23rd year, this year’s World’s Greatest Shave campaign, which kicks off today, is hoping to raise $15 million.
Each day, 47 Australians are told they have a blood cancer and 15 people lose their battle with the disease. Blood cancer can develop in anyone and occur at any age. Blood cancer also remains the most commonly diagnosed childhood cancer.
Mr Tanti said there has never been a more vital time for Australians to get behind the World’s Greatest Shave.
“As we lead into World Cancer Day this Thursday, we gain a clearer understanding through these latest figures the enormous size, scale and impact of blood cancer. You only have to mention leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma and you’ll soon come across someone who’s faced blood cancer themselves, or who knows and loves someone who’s been diagnosed.”
Mr Tanti said the Leukaemia Foundation was bracing itself for a spike in blood cancer diagnoses as COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease and more Australians seek health check-ups.
“Blood cancer symptoms can sometimes be subtle or similar to other conditions such as a virus, often making it a silent disease that can be tricky to catch – but if it remains unchecked, the consequences can be devastating.”
For more information on the World’s Greatest Shave visit www.worldsgreatestshave.com or call 1800 500 088.