Friday, October 18, 2013

Don't Know Much About...Blood Cancers

Oncology Times published the results of a survey, sponsored by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, that show how woefully ignorant the general public is about blood cancers (the various leukemias, lyphomas, and multiple myelomas). The lead statistic in the story is that fewer than half (46%) of those surveyed knew that blood cancers were the third most common cause of cancer death in the U.S. (behind lung/respitory cancer and colon/GI cancers).

Some other stats:

  • 82 percent of those surveyed said they were surprised to learn that more than one million U.S. adults are currently living with a blood cancer;
  • 87 percent were surprised by the statement that about every four minutes one person in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer;
  • 86 percent were surprised when told that approximately every 10 minutes someone in the U.S. dies from a blood cancer.
  • 76 percent said they believe that it's up to the government, private industry, and drug companies to fund research for all cancers, including hematologic cancers.
  • 86 percent they hadn't realized that certain promising treatments for some chronic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, were initially tested and FDA-approved as treatments for blood cancers; and
  • Nearly all those surveyed (97%) said they think it important for all blood cancer patients to have access to potentially life-saving treatments.
Now, naturally, I'm pretty thrilled at anything that publicizes blood cancers, and follicular lymphoma in particular. But that first stat -- 46% of people knew that about blood cancers -- seems a little off. Really? In a survey of 1000 people, half knew the order of the leading causes of cancer deaths, but 82% didn't know (and were surprised by) how many people have blood cancer, or by how often they get it? Even I don't know any of those statistics, and I'm up to my lipoma-riddled armpits in lymphoma knowledge.

I don't mean to be critical of LLS or the survey. I'm just having fun.

LLS is a great organization that does a lot for follicular lymphoma (and other blood cancer) patients. They fund research, provide financial assistance to patients, raise awareness, and serve as advocates. All excellent things.

I haven't linked to LLS in a while, so if you haven't gone to their site recently, this is a good time to go. Click around a little. I think they do OK giving general information about different disease types ( is still the best site online for really detailed info about Follicular Lymphoma, in my opinion), but their strength is really in support and advocacy, particularly if you're looking for local, face-to-face support. They have a national network of local chapters, with lots of opportunities for getting help, and for helping others.

I didn't take the survey, but I'm definitely one of those 97% who "think it important for all blood cancer patients to have access to potentially life-saving treatments."

(But who are those other 3%? What kind of sick bastard says No to a question like that? Weird survey.....)

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