The Leukaemia Foundation has released new figures showing blood cancers combined are now the second most diagnosed cancers in Australia and the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths.
The Foundation said there has been a 30 per cent increase in the incidence of blood cancer over the past decade. It said it is also experiencing a 30 per cent increase in demand for its services.
On his first day as the Leukaemia Foundation’s CEO, Chris Tanti said this combination makes the 2021 World’s Greatest Shave campaign 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."
The Foundation said it is continuing to face a shortfall of donations due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fundraising goal for this year's World’s Greatest Shave is $15 million.
The campaign, which is in its twenty-third year, is the organisation's single biggest source of revenue.
“There has never been a more vital time to get behind the World’s Greatest Shave to raise much-needed funds for the Leukaemia Foundation to continue answering the call of families across the country impacted by this complex set of diseases," said Mr Tanti.
Blood cancer claimes the lives of more than 5,600 people each year. It also continues to remain the most commonly diagnosed childhood cancer.
“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,” said Mr Tanti.
Mr Tanti said the Leukaemia Foundation is bracing for a spike in blood cancer diagnoses as COVID-19 restrictions 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,” he said.
“The reality is blood cancer doesn’t stop for a global pandemic and we know for every day since COVID-19 began, another 47 Australians would have developed blood cancer even if they don’t yet know it.
“That is why we are urging Australians not to postpone trips to their doctor and to address any health concerns immediately. Ongoing symptoms such as recurrent infections, increased fatigue or bruising or enlarged lymph nodes should be urgently discussed with your GP.”