Wait, I Didn’t Know That About Blood Cancer!

Blood cancer awareness is key to better management of the disease but most people fall short

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Since there is no screening test for blood cancers, early detection is a challenge. But advances in blood cancer treatments are helping patients live longer, more fulfilling lives.

Blood cancers are the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States. However, according to a new survey conducted by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, less than half of those surveyed knew this fact.

September has been designated Blood Cancer Awareness Month, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society recommends taking this opportunity to develop a better understanding of blood cancer.

"Ask your doctor about treatment options for blood cancer."

This survey was conducted by Russell Research on behalf of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

The objective of the survey was to create awareness about blood cancers and drive home the need to focus on treatment options for blood cancer patients.

According to John Walter, CEO and President of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, "As there are no means of preventing or early detection for most blood cancers, we must focus on cures.  Blood Cancer Awareness Month is the right platform to create a sense of urgency about the need to continue investing in lifesaving treatments and cures."

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is an organization dedicated to blood cancer. The mission of the society is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, all of which are different types of cancers of the blood and circulatory system.

The society funds blood cancer research and also provides free information and support services to patients and families.

This recent survey was conducted online from July 26 to July 31, 2013. Over 1,000 adults aged 18 years and older answered the survey questions.

Of these participants, less than half (46 percent) knew that blood cancers are one of the three leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the US, behind lung cancers and digestive cancers.

Most participants (63 percent) believed that breast cancer was among the top three causes of death. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is actually fourth in terms of cancer-related deaths, right behind blood cancers.

More than one million US adults currently live with a blood cancer, but four out of five survey participants (82 percent) were surprised to learn this fact.

Also, nine in 10 adults were surprised when they found out that about every four minutes, a person in the US is diagnosed with a blood cancer and that approximately every 10 minutes, someone dies from a blood cancer.

On the positive side, nearly all the participants (97 percent) agreed that it is important for patients diagnosed with blood cancer to have access to potentially life-saving treatments.  

dailyRx News spoke to Louis J. DeGennaro, PhD, Chief Mission Officer at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

“The study reveals an alarming lack of knowledge among adults of all ages across the country about blood cancers, including forms of leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, and other blood cancers.  The implications go far beyond current patients and their relatives and, in fact, impact us all,” said Dr. DeGennaro.

“Since there is no way to detect blood cancers early — there is no 'mammogram-like' screening test — patients present to their doctor with full-blown cancer requiring rapid treatment. Lack of awareness frequently causes patients to ignore symptoms and delay seeing their doctor,” Dr. DeGennaro pointed out.

“Thanks to research and access to better treatments, survival rates for many blood cancer patients have doubled, tripled and even quadrupled since 1960. But despite significant progress in treating blood cancer, more than a third of blood cancer patients still do not survive five years after their diagnosis. More research in this area is needed,” he said.

“Gaining a better understanding of these diseases is important. Awareness leading to prompt action by the patient and his or her doctor can yield good outcomes,” said Dr. DeGennaro.

The results of this study were published online August 29 on the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s website.

The study was funded by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Review Date: 
September 11, 2013
Last Updated:
January 2, 2014