As the name suggests, blood cancer refers to cancers that affect the blood, bone marrow and lymphatic system. Different types of blood cancers can be separated into three main groups: leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. 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. Reports currently indicate that there are 60,000 Australians living with blood cancer, with 13,000 more diagnosed annually. Leukaemia especially is also the most common form of cancer experienced by children and adolescents.
Blood cancer is a rising problem, and is receiving an increasing amount of attention from the medical world. A number of initiatives have been established to determine the causes of blood cancer and to develop treatments to help those that suffer from it.
Causes and symptoms of blood cancer
Despite extensive research, the exact causes of blood cancer currently remain a mystery. It is generally believed to be due to genetic disorders, high doses of radiation or carcinogens. Blood cancer is defined as the abnormal growth of red blood cells, bone marrow cells or cells in the lymphatic system.
Some common symptoms of blood cancers include feeling fatigued, sudden weight loss, constantly feeling weak and breathless, itchy skin and feeling pain in bones and joints. These symptoms are also common across a number of other less severe illnesses, so people may not immediately know that they have blood cancer. Early diagnosis is critical to achieve better treatment outcomes, so if you are experiencing any of the symptoms commonly associated with blood cancer it is vital that you receive a diagnosis as soon as possible.
Raising awareness and support
There are a number of initiatives both around the world and right here in Australia dedicated to raising awareness and support for people with blood cancer, some that you may have already heard of before. The World’s Greatest Shave is one of the largest fundraising events in Australia, and each year countless Australians shave their heads to show solidarity with people suffering from blood cancer. This year staff members from the The Eastbrooke Family Clinic Belmont supported the Leukaemia Foundation’s World’s Greatest Shave with Verelle Walters, our Clinical Nurse shaving the hair of her son Luke. Thank you and well done guys!
All Funds raised through the World’s Greatest Shave are put towards research behind the causes of blood cancer and the development of treatments to prevent more deaths through the Leukaemia Foundation.