WARNING: Spike in disease killing 20 Aussies every day
BETTER access to treatments, clinical trials and early diagnostics will be critical to preventing an alarming spike in blood cancers across Australia over the next 15 years.
A major health taskforce has been established to advise the Federal Government on how to combat cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma, which are predicted to kill 186,000 Australians in just over a decade.
A report released by the Leukaemia Foundation last year revealed 20 Australians are dying from blood cancers every day, with that number expected to double by 2035.
The State of the Nation: Blood Cancer in Australia report also found the cost to the nation's economy would reach $71.9 billion in just over a decade - more than triple today's annual estimated cost of $22.9 billion.
Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch has been charged with co-chairing the Blood Cancer Taskforce - which includes 30 of Australia's leading blood cancer experts and stakeholders - and delivering a series of recommendations to Canberra by the middle of the year.
Mr Petch said the taskforce's recommendations were still being formed, but access to vital health services were critical, particularly in regional areas.
"There's no doubt clear diagnostics are critical. We need better information for patients so they are informed. At the moment people feel like they have no control, there's not enough information," he said.
"Access to treatment is also vital and treatment outcomes should not be dictated by your postcode.
"And access to clinical trials will become increasingly important. We have a great health system, but it's only as good as someone's ability to access it."
The Leukaemia Foundation is also launching its World's Greatest Shave campaign today - on World Cancer Day - in partnership with News Corp titles across Australia.
Mr Petch said the campaign had never been more important to the Leukaemia Foundation as it prepares for a massive jump in demand for its services.
"The funds raised by World's Greatest Shave are vital to improve and save lives, so we urge all Australians to take a stand against blood cancer by rallying together, signing up and getting sponsored to bravely shave their heads or cut or colour their hair in 2020," he said.