Tremendous advances have been made to treat blood cancer but the battle is far from won
September 7, 2011 - Remarkable progress has been made in treating patients with blood cancers, with survival rates for many having doubled or tripled since The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) was founded in 1949.
Survival rates for children with acute lymphocytic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer, have risen over the past 40 years from 3% to approximately 90% today; Hodgkin lymphoma patient survival rates have nearly doubled to 86% since the 1960s, and the five-year survival rate has increased from 25% in the mid-seventies to 41% for all myeloma patients, and patients diagnosed in the last decade had a 50% improvement in overall survival.
Yet, more than 1 million North Americans are fighting blood cancers, the third leading cause of cancer death. Every four minutes someone in North America is diagnosed with a blood a cancer, and every ten minutes someone dies.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is a beacon of hope and guidance to those touched by blood cancer and each September LLS observes Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma Awareness Month, to shed light on these diseases and let the public know that there are resources available for blood cancer patients and their families.
"Awareness Month is an opportunity to increase the public?s understanding of blood cancers and encourage people to support the funding of research to find cures and education programs to help patients have the best possible outcomes throughout their cancer experience," said Gabrielle Urquhart, National Capital Area Chapter Executive Director.
The National Capital Area Chapter kicked off Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma Awareness Month with a visit to the Children's Pediatric Oncology Inpatient Unit on September 6. Board members, volunteers and chapter staff brought lunch and gifts to children currently being treated at the hospital. The group will also visit Children?s National Medical Center - Falls Church Outpatient Clinic on September 13, Georgetown's Lombardi Cancer Center on September 21 and Children's National Medical Center on September 23.
Through its patient services programs, LLS offers a comprehensive array of education and support services to blood cancer patients and their families. There are family support groups, free patient education workshops featuring health experts, and First Connection ? a peer-to-peer support program that matches newly diagnosed patients with trained volunteer survivors. A back to school program helps children treated for cancer transition back to school. LLS also provides financial assistance to patients with significant financial need and an insurance co-pay assistance program.
September?s programs include a presentation on "Chemobrain" with Guest Speaker Michael Feuerstein, Professor, USUHS Clinical Psychologist, Author & Cancer Survivor on September 15 at Bethesda's Suburban Hospital. A new Young Adult Cancer Support Group will begin at The George Washington University this month, also on September 15, for individuals with any type of cancer diagnosis between the ages of 19 and 39. For more information on these and other support groups offered, visit www.lls.org/nca.
Since its inception in 1949, LLS has invested more than $814 million in research to find cures and better therapies. LLS supports investigators? efforts to find new molecular targets for treatment and potential immunotherapies, and helps them translate their laboratory findings into more effective therapies for patients. Its Therapy Acceleration Program (TAP) is a bold initiative to advance therapies with strong prospect so providing near-term benefit to patients diagnosed with blood cancers.
LLS's web site - www.LLS.org is the definitive resource for information about blood cancers and its Information Resource Center (IRC) is a call center staffed by master's level social workers, nurses and health educators who provide information, support and resources to patients and their families and caregivers. IRC information specialists are available at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.