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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Every 10 Minutes, Someone in the US Dies from a Blood Cancer …..

The top two lines in the chart tell terrible stories. Inexorably climbing cancer rates for childhood cancers and non-Hodgkins lymphomas.

What do the charts mean in human terms ? There are no words I know to really cover that subject. But here are some awful and powerful words from a fall 2010 press release by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society:

"Every 10 minutes, someone [in the US] dies from a blood cancer and more than 53,000 will die from one this year."

Cancer is a crisis for our nation and the world. Indeed, the American Cancer Society recently demonstrated that cancer costs the world economy something between $ 1.5 trillion and $2 trillion, every year, in lost productivity and direct medical treatment costs.

Why are the costs so high? Because cancer is rampant. Set aside future growth rates – based on just the present annual numbers from the ACS, there will be 15 million new cancers in the US in the next 10 years. That’s more than the populations of our three largest cities – New York (8.9 m), Los Angeles (3.83 m), and Chicago (2.8 m), in just a decade. Imagine the outcry if terrorists spread germs that inflicted devasting harm or death on 15 million people.

Crises demand action, and money. Sadly, words exceed money when it comes to cancer. Thus, this month the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 1433, declaring September 2010 as ‘Blood Cancer Awareness Month.’ Many of the words are set out below.

"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," explained John Walter, president and CEO of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. "The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society would like to thank Representatives Walter Jones and Betsey Markey for introducing and supporting this resolution, and all of our volunteers who called and emailed their representatives to urge their support."

Remarkable progress has been made in treating patients with blood cancers. Sixty years ago there were few effective treatments for children or adults with blood cancer and the rate of survival was very low. Today, about 75 percent of children with acute leukemia and nearly 80 percent of children and adults with Hodgkin lymphoma are cured. Advances in the treatment of blood cancers have also led to new treatments for other cancers. In fact, in the last decade, 47 percent of new cancer therapies approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were first developed and approved to treat a blood cancer.

Despite these advances, more than 900,000 people in the United States currently have some form of blood cancer and fewer than 50 percent of newly diagnosed patients will survive five years past that diagnosis. Every ten minutes someone dies from a blood cancer and more than 53,000 will die from one this year. (emphasis added)

"Congress has been supportive of issues affecting blood cancers in the past," said Walter, "and we thank them for that support. But more needs to be done to fight these deadly diseases increased research funding, access to affordable treatments, and improved care planning for survivors, just to name a few issues that need to be addressed."

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