(Rye Brook, NY, Sept. 1, 2021) — September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month, an opportunity to remind the public that every 180 seconds, someone in the U.S. has their life turned upside down by a blood cancer diagnosis. When this happens, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), the global leader in the fight against blood cancers, is there, providing guidance, education, and support every step of the way.
“No one should have to face a blood cancer diagnosis alone, especially during these trying times. LLS is unwavering in our commitment to helping blood cancer patients and their families throughout their entire cancer experience,” said Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., LLS President and CEO. “But we can’t do our critical work without you. In 180 seconds – just three minutes of your time – you can help us save and improve lives. It’s vital impact we can make together.”
LLS Mission in the time of COVID-19
“The time for action is now. The pandemic has disrupted access to cancer care at an alarming rate, resulting in diagnosis and treatment delays, and widened existing health inequities in the U.S,” said Dr. DeGennaro. “If left unresolved, there will be increases in cancer morbidity and mortality for years to come. We simply can’t let this happen. Together with our volunteers, supporters, and partners, we are determined to find cures and help every blood cancer patient access the care they need.”
Studies show immunosuppressed blood cancer patients are particularly vulnerable and at risk of more severe outcomes from COVID-19. In February 2021, the organization launched The LLS National Patient Registry, a project of the Michael J. Garil Patient Data Collective, to increase scientific knowledge about how COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines affect people living with blood cancers. More than 10,000 patients are taking part in this initiative.
Recently, LLS released the largest study to date, reporting detailed findings on antibody response after COVID-19 vaccination by blood cancer and treatment type. While COVID-19 vaccines are safe and offer protection to the majority of blood cancer patients, data show about 1 in 4 blood cancer patients do not produce detectable antibodies after COVID-19 vaccination. It’s possible these patients still receive some benefit from the vaccines, but many may be at higher risk of breakthrough infection.
“As a mission-driven health organization, we are doing everything in our power to protect the patients, families, and communities we serve,” said Dr. DeGennaro. “We’re continuing to partner with citizen scientists in our LLS National Patient Registry to conduct ongoing analyses and build crucial knowledge. The more we learn, the more we can help the patients we all care about.”
Advancing the most promising blood cancer research worldwide
LLS is an unstoppable innovator, driving research worldwide to deliver next-generation breakthroughs and cures. From pioneering the first collaborative precision medicine clinical trial in a blood cancer to supporting the rise of CAR T-cell immunotherapies, LLS is an early adopter of the most cutting-edge treatment technologies and approaches.
Since 1949, LLS has invested more than $1.3 billion in cancer research, leading to breakthroughs in immunotherapy, genomics and personalized medicine that are improving and saving the lives of patients. The organization has helped advance 85% of the blood cancer treatment options approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since 2017 alone.
Among its newest research programs is the LLS IMPACT Research Grants. LLS’s IMPACT Research Grants bring world-class care to underrepresented blood cancer patients by awarding funding to major cancer centers to partner with community-based hospitals and clinics on creating networks of clinical trial sites in their regions.
Helping patients access the care they need
LLS is the leading source of free blood cancer information, education, and support for patients, survivors, caregivers, families, and healthcare professionals. The organization urges patients to learn about its free, one-on-one support, including:
- LLS Information Specialists are highly trained oncology professionals who provide free, personalized assistance to patients, families, and healthcare providers. LLS Information Specialists are ready to help at (800) 955-4572, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET or by live chat/email on LLS.ORG.
- LLS Clinical Trial Nurse Navigators are registered nurses with expertise in blood cancers who conduct comprehensive clinical trial searches and personally assist patients, parents, and caregivers throughout the entire clinical trial process.
- LLS’s registered dietitian has expertise in oncology nutrition and provides patients, parents, and caregivers with free nutrition consultations.
LLS also offers financial assistance, a podcast, peer-to-peer support, online chats, webcasts, videos, caregiver support, education and outreach programs like Myeloma Link, and so much more.
The organization also pursues a patient-focused advocacy agenda focused on breaking down barriers to care and accelerating the development of new treatments. LLS has made groundbreaking policy changes possible, from advancing oral parity to ending surprise medical bills.
Through a nationwide grassroots network of more than 30,000 active online volunteers, LLS advocates for policies at the state and federal level and is taking action to reduce patients’ out-of-pocket costs, address financial toxicity, and protect public health and cancer patients, during this crisis and beyond.
Taking on pediatric blood cancers from every direction
September is also Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, an important time to talk about the need to take a bold approach to help children with blood cancers.
“For too long, children with blood cancers have been treated with a one-size-fits-all approach. In this era of precision medicine, we must do better,” said Dr. DeGennaro. “Our goal is no less than a wholesale shift in the standard of care, moving toward safer, more effective treatments that precisely target cancer without harming the rest of the body. That’s why we’re driving an unprecedented collaboration to next-level pediatric blood cancer treatment and care.”
Through The LLS Children’s Initiative, a $160 million multi-year endeavor, LLS is taking on children’s cancer from every direction. The LLS Children’s Initiative includes: more dedicated pediatric blood cancer research, expanded education and support for children, young adults, and families, bold advocacy endeavors, and LLS PedAL, the first global precision medicine clinical trial for pediatric acute leukemia, with an anticipated launch later this year.
This Blood Cancer Awareness Month and beyond, LLS is inviting people around the world to give 180 seconds to the fight against these diseases. Every action can make a difference and lead the way to a future without blood cancers. Some ways to help include:
- Donating at LLS.ORG to help more patients and families.
- Learning more about blood cancers and our free education and support at www.lls.org/BCAM.
- Registering for one of our inspirational Light The Night events to bring light to the darkness of cancer.
- Becoming an advocate or exploring volunteer opportunities. No matter how you choose to get involved, you’ll help blood cancer patients receive the best treatments and support possible.
- Following LLS on social media (@LLSusa) and sharing our stories or contributing your own with #cancelbloodcancer or #bloodcancerawarenessmonth
To learn more, visit www.LLS.org.
About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is the global leader in the fight against blood cancer. The LLS mission: cure leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.
Founded in 1949 and headquartered in Rye Brook, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit . Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., ET.
Kristin Hoose, Senior Director, External Constituent Communications