Ageing population increasing Queensland’s blood cancer burden

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Blood cancer death rates in Queensland have soared by a third in just 10 years, a further symptom of the country’s ageing population, according to a new analysis.

The Leukaemia Foundation’s investigation shows the number of Australians dying from blood cancer is now DOUBLE those losing their life to melanoma¹.

Latest statistics show 829 Queenslanders died from blood cancer in 2015, compared to 610 in 2006 – an increase of more than 35%¹.

Blood cancer is the leading cause of death among children aged 1-141, along with drowning. It also affects older people, particularly those aged over 55. While more children are surviving, almost half of adult blood cancer patients will lose their life.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies predicts by the turn of the next century a quarter of the population of Australia will be aged 65 years or older, compared to around 15 per cent currently².

The Leukaemia Foundation’s CEO Bill Petch warned the causes of blood cancer were still largely, and unacceptably, unknown but an ageing population could be playing an important part in the dramatic rise.

“More people than ever are dying of blood cancer and I for one am simply not prepared to sit idly by while the numbers keep heading north,” he said.

“Queenslanders who die from a blood cancer are on average losing six-and-half years of their life. That’s more than six valuable years they could have spent making memories with their loved ones.

“Despite being the third biggest cause of cancer death in this country, many of us still aren’t aware of the disease and the devastating impact it has on families in our communities.”

Blood cancer includes diseases like leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

“Research into some blood cancers, particularly lymphoma, gets relatively little government support and so we urgently need to find ways to fund more of this critical work,” Mr Petch added.

“Thanks to our supporters and fundraising events like the World’s Greatest Shave, the Leukaemia Foundation is able to invest millions into blood cancer research each year – but we need to find more.

“We can only do that if the community rallies with us and becomes part of the solution, which will see more Queenslanders survive blood cancer and go on to lead a better quality of life.”

You can support Australia’s blood cancer researchers by taking part in World’s Greatest Shave in March. Find out more at worldsgreatestshave.com.

Sources:

1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Causes of Death, Australia, 2015

2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Population Projections, Australia 2012 to 2101, 2013