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  • Blood cancer death rates in Australia is increasing

    Author: AAP

Greater awareness and research is urgently needed to stop the rising number of Australians dying from blood cancer, says The Leukaemia Foundation.

Michael Chamberlain was this week remembered as a true and honest man who never lost his faith, but sadly he was one of an increasing number of older Australians to have lost their life to blood cancer.

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Blood cancer death rates in Australia have soared by a fifth in just 10 years, according to new analysis by The Leukaemia Foundation.

The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show more than 4400 people across Australia died from blood cancer in 2015, compared with 3700 in 2006 - an increase of nearly 20 per cent.

Blood cancer is typically a young person's disease and, despite the high survival rate, remains the leading cause of death among children aged 1-14, along with drowning.


Frontline Health Auckland
Sunshine Coast Radiology
Radiologist - Rockhampton
Central Queensland Radiology

It also affects older people, particularly those aged over 55, yet alarmingly almost half of adult blood cancer patients will die from the disease.

With a quarter of the Australian population estimated to be aged 65 years or older by the turn of the next century, this trend is very concerning for the foundation's general manager Christine McMillan.

Mrs McMillan says blood cancer can often "sneak up" on people, and it's important for adults not to put off going to the doctor if they are experiencing any symptoms.

She says too often she hears of cases of people falling ill and being diagnosed with blood cancer while on holidays because that's when the business of life is no longer a distraction.

"It's about that early diagnoses and mapping out the treatment options as soon as possible," she said.

"You know when a child is sick but as an adult you push things to the back of your mind and that's a contributing factor as well."

Blood cancer is an umbrella term for cancers that affect the blood, bone marrow and lymphatic system.

There are three main groups of blood cancer: leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

Many of the causes of these deadly cancers are unknown, which is why more funding for research to find curative treatments is vital, says Mrs McMillan.

"Despite being the third biggest cause of cancer death in this country, many of us still aren't aware of the disease and the devastating impact it has on families in our communities," she said.

"Research into some blood cancers, particularly lymphoma, gets relatively little government support and so we urgently need to find ways to fund more of this critical work.

"The more that can be done in that research avenue, the better the outcomes particularly for the adult population," Mrs McMillan said.


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