Most Australians are still in the dark about blood cancer, despite leukaemia and related conditions being the second highest cause of cancer-related deaths in Australia. Worryingly, 80% of us are also unsure how to recognise the main symptoms of blood cancer.
New research from the Leukaemia Foundation also shows 70% of Australians are unaware that blood cancers are the second most diagnosed cancers in the country, and 60% are unaware that blood cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed childhood cancer here.
With a 40% increase in incidence rates of blood cancers over the past decade, (significantly higher than all other cancers combined), the Leukaemia Foundation recently launched the 2022 World’s Greatest Shave campaign to raise awareness of blood cancer and its associated symptoms.
They are calling on all Australians to make it their mission to help defeat blood cancer by braving the shave.
Leukaemia Foundation CEO Chris Tanti said, ‘Unlike other cancers, there are no screening programs available to detect blood cancer early and no way to prevent it through lifestyle change.
‘With four in five Australians not confident they could recognise the main symptoms of blood cancer, the chances of missing a crucial diagnosis are worryingly high.
‘If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it can result in a delayed diagnosis and impact your chance of survival,’ he said.
‘The first step to defeating blood cancer is raising awareness and making Australians aware of the symptoms. We know that the sooner a diagnosis occurs, the greater chance you have of beating your blood cancer,’ said Mr Tanti.
Symptoms to watch
The most common blood cancer symptoms include recurrent infections, increased fatigue, night sweats, bone pain, unexplained weight loss, bruising and enlarged lymph nodes.
With the recent sharp increase of Omicron COVID-19 cases, there’s a risk of blood cancer symptoms being dismissed or mistaken for this virus, making raising awareness of blood cancer symptoms more important than ever before.
‘Blood cancer symptoms can be mistaken for the flu or even COVID-19, resulting in people delaying contacting their GP and potentially a delayed blood cancer diagnosis,’ said Mr Tanti.
‘As we enter the next phase of the pandemic, as a community we’re being asked to recognise COVID-19 symptoms. Similarly, it’s important that Australians are aware of the common symptoms of blood cancer and contact their doctor if these symptoms don’t improve. It could save your life.’
‘110,000 Australians are living with blood cancer right now including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma and more than 5,700 are expected to lose their life to blood cancer this year,’ said Mr Tanti.
‘By 2035, twice as many Australians will be diagnosed and almost three times as many will lose their life to blood cancer,’ he said.
For 24 years, World’s Greatest Shave has raised crucial funds to ensure the 50 Australians diagnosed with blood cancer each day have access to the right information and support they need to fight their diagnosis and live well. It also helps research scientists continue their search for better ways to diagnose and treat blood cancer more effectively.
The Leukaemia Foundation says this simply wouldn’t be possible without the incredible fundraising efforts of everyday Australians signing up to shave, cut or colour their hair.
Shave for a good cause
‘With incidence of blood cancer continuing to rise, chances are you know someone who has been impacted,’ said Chris Tanti.
‘The Leukaemia Foundation is on a mission to raise awareness of blood cancer and defeat the disease and together with our brave shavers we believe it is possible to achieve our goal of zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035,’ he said.
‘Even in the midst of a global pandemic blood cancer doesn’t stop, so neither can we.
‘I urge all Australians to join us and make it their mission in 2022 to support the growing number of people diagnosed with blood cancer every day by signing up to World’s Greatest Shave,’ said Mr Tanti.
Officially ramping up to ‘Shave Week’ between March 16-20, you can join the fight against blood cancer and register by downloading the app, signing up online at www.worldsgreatestshave.com or calling 1800 500 088 for more information.
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