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It is estimated over 110 000 people are living with blood cancer or a related blood disorder in Australia today and sadly 15 people lose their life to blood cancer each day.
Data has shown the incidence of blood cancer has increased by 40 per cent in the past 10 years across Australia.
A survey from Blood Cancer UK found that over half of adults cannot name a single symptom of blood cancer, despite it being the third-biggest cause of cancer deaths worldwide.
Mater Researcher and Haematologist Professor Maher Gandhi said this was alarming as early detection is key to treating blood cancers effectively.
“Blood cancer occurs when the blood cells aren’t made properly and reduces bone marrow’s ability to produce normal levels of other blood cells, this affects the way that the rest of the body works and allows the abnormal cells to spread into the bloodstream,” Professor Gandhi said.
“It’s critical people are aware of the symptoms of blood cancer which include, unexplained weight loss, unexplained bruising or bleeding, lumps or swellings, shortness of breath, drenching night sweats, infections that are persistent, fever, rash or itchy skin, pain in your bones, joints, or abdomen, fatigue and unusually pale complexion.
“Risk factors can include smoking, exposure to chemicals, exposure to radiation, certain blood disorders, genetic factors and previous treatment of chemotherapy and has around a 50 per cent survival rate for the first five years.”
Although these symptoms and risk factors could be the sign of a minor illness Professor Gandhi says if you are concerned you should discuss with your GP or healthcare provider.
The main types of blood cancer include leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma which all present differently and have different treatments.
“Treatments options for blood cancer include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapies, stem cell transplantation, surgery and immunotherapy,” Professor Gandhi said.
“In my research I am currently looking at harnessing the immune system to treat rare forms of blood cancer.
“Myself and my team are dedicated to driving innovative research that pushes Australia’s potential beyond existing knowledge and boundaries, to revolutionise health outcomes around the world.”
Data obtained from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer/cancer-data-in-australia/contents/summary and https://bloodcancer.org.uk/
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Nestled in the back streets of South Brisbane, behind the Mater Hospital is an important service meeting an unmet need in the community.