Government to create 'national taskforce' on blood cancer

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The Leukaemia Foundation has welcomed health minister Greg Hunt's commitment to creating a national blood cancer taskforce as a new report highlights its impact on Australia.

According to the 'State of the Nation - Blood Cancer in Australia' report, the number of Australians living with the deadly disease will more than double to 275,000 by 2035. It says up to 186,000 people may die as a result of blood cancer over the next 16 years.

Over 40 Australians are currently diagnosed with a form of blood cancer every day. Around 20 can expect to lose their life as a result of the disease - this is projected to more than double over the years to 2035.

Around 7,500 Australians die every year due to blood cancer and this is expected to rise to more than 15,000 people annually.

The report was commissioned by the Leukaemia Foundation and prepared by research firm Insight Economics.

According to Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch, the government has responded to the report with Minister Hunt announcing the creation of a national Blood Cancer Taskforce and the development of Australia's first National Strategic Action Plan for Blood Cancer.

Mr Petch said the report also highlighted the economic impact of blood cancer with the cost to the health system expected to rise from $3.4 billion today to almost $11 billion in 2035.

"This report outlines an agenda for change, which will, in turn, drive down both the personal and economic toll blood cancer is set to have on our country. That is why we need all Australians to unite in recognising blood cancer as a significant issue that will impact all of us," said Mr Petch.

"An unprecedented 3200 people living with blood cancer were surveyed in the development of this patient-centred and people-focused report, and it is their lived experiences that are fueling our push for action. We want all Australians living with blood cancer, their families and carers to know - we see you, we hear you, and we're here for you."

The report identifies four key priorities for blood cancer - empowering patients, ensuring equity of access, accelerating research and catalysing health service reform.

Mr Petch said, "While the patient experience has been transformed by new treatments over the past 40 years, improved access to information, the latest diagnostics, treatments and services, must remain a priority".

The new task force is expected to include hematologists, researchers, patients and what it describes as "members of the blood cancer ecosystem".

"The Leukaemia Foundation and the whole blood cancer community are committed to partnering with the Federal Government in tackling the challenges of blood cancer," he said.

"For the past 40 years, the Leukaemia Foundation has supported and advocated for people living with blood cancer in Australia. Now we are looking forward to leading a new era of change for the Australian blood cancer community by partnering with industry, government, medical professionals and everyday Australians to realise the goal of zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035," added Mr Petch.