A first-of-its-kind nationwide report commissioned by the Leukaemia Foundation has revealed treatment inconsistencies for blood cancer patients living in regional areas compared with their city-based counterparts is costing the lives of regional Australians.
The release of the State of the Nation: Blood Cancer in Australia report, identified the true size, scale and impact of blood cancer and the lived experiences of people living with blood cancer in Australia today.
The report also revealed the challenges and opportunities influencing survival and quality of life for Australians, including for the 41 per cent of blood cancer patients living in regional areas.
Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said the comprehensive and evidence-based report showed blood cancer has been underestimated and under-reported.
"It has identified that blood cancer is now more significant and prevalent than ever before and that diagnosis rates are on the rise across the country, including in Mount Isa," Mr Petch said.
This has resulted in Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announcing the development of a national Blood Cancer Taskforce, and charging the Leukaemia Foundation with delivering Australia's first National Strategic Action Plan for Blood Cancer.
Mr Petch said that by 2035, 275,000 Australians will be living with blood cancer - more than double the number of people battling these diseases today.
The report also shows up to 186,000 people may die as a result of blood cancer over the next 16 years.
"Right now, every day, 41 Australian children, adults, parents and grandparents will be told they have blood cancer and unfortunately 20 people will lose their life to blood cancer, making these cancers some of the most common and deadly in the country," Mr Petch said.
Mr Petch said the report also clearly shows the lived experience of blood cancer patients in regional areas can be vastly different to that of patients living in metro areas, from diagnosis through treatment, which is ultimately impacting their survivability.
"The report also shows regional patients aren't receiving the crucial specialist care they need in the time they need it and are more like to be delayed in getting this care than their metro peers," he said.
"This outlines an agenda for change, which will, in turn, drive down both the personal and economic toll blood cancer is set to have on our country. That is why we need all Australians to unite in recognising blood cancer as a significant issue that will impact all of us."
The cost to the health system of treating and caring for people with blood cancer is expected to increase to over $10.9 billion in 2035 - up from $3.4 billion annually today. The total cost to the Australian economy is also expected to reach $71.9 billion a year in 2035 - more than triple today's annual estimated cost of $22.9 billion.
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