Spot blood cancer early: common signs and symptoms you shouldn’t ignore

The Leukaemia Foundation’s new national ambassadors.
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Blood cancers combined have now risen to become the second most common cause of cancer death in Australia, making it one of the nation’s deadliest cancers.

Despite this alarming reality, seven in 10 Australians are not confident in recognising the main signs and symptoms of blood cancer.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Chris Tanti said it was important for Australians to understand what symptoms to look out for and contact their doctor if these symptoms don’t improve to enable an earlier diagnosis.

“Unlike other cancers, there are no screening programs to detect blood cancer and no way to prevent it through lifestyle change. We know that early diagnosis can play a key role in surviving blood cancer, so it is crucially important that you are examined and treated properly, especially if you live in regional Australia,” Mr Tanti said.

Blood cancer symptoms include persistent tiredness, dizziness, anaemia, frequent or repeated infections, increased or unexplained bleeding or bruising, bone pain or kidney damage and a high calcium level in the blood.

If you are experiencing any of these, please immediately see and discuss with your GP or specialist.

With public awareness of one of Australia’s deadliest cancers still alarmingly low, a formidable alliance of well-known Australians have also joined forces today with the Leukaemia Foundation to tackle blood cancer, including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. This collective effort aims to significantly increase public awareness of blood cancer, its signs and symptoms and, above all, eradicate any loss of preventable deaths due to blood cancer by 2035.

Tanti said this groundbreaking collaboration signifies a critical turning point in the fight against blood cancer in Australia.

“By harnessing the collective strength and influence of these prominent Australians, we aspire to improve public understanding, heighten awareness, and empower individuals to recognise and respond to the early warning signs of blood cancer,” Tanti said.

“The Leukaemia Foundation is on a mission to raise awareness of blood cancer and defeat the disease. We aspire to improve public understanding, heighten awareness, and empower individuals to recognise and respond to the early warning signs of blood cancer to achieve our ultimate goal of zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035.”

“By fostering a community equipped with knowledge, empathy, and swift action, we are collectively striving to ensure that not a single life succumbs to this devastating disease beyond 2035.”

The Leukaemia Foundation’s new national ambassadors are:

Barry Du Bois; TV presenter, artisan and entrepreneur. He was first diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer called Solitary Plasmacytoma in 2010, which later developed into Myeloma, an incurable type of blood cancer, in 2017. Barry has undergone gruelling treatment including surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. He is currently living with blood cancer today and with his wife, raising their two young children.

Lyndey Milan OAM; TV personality and food queen. Sadly, lost her much-loved 29-year-old son Blair to acute myeloid leukaemia. Blair passed away within a few days of being diagnosed.

Elle Halliwell; Journalist, presenter, author and health coach. Diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia just two days before she found out she was pregnant with her first child. She is currently living with blood cancer today and openly discusses the mental health challenges of living with cancer.

Matthew Doyle; Cultural custodian and knowledge holder. Sadly, lost both of his twin boys to blood cancer. Matthew is passionate about supporting First Nations communities impacted by blood cancer and raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of this disease.

Briony Benjamin; Author, video producer and motivational speaker. Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2017 and has launched a book and journal, Life is Tough But So Are You. Briony has now been in remission for five years.

Urvi Majumdar; Comedian, writer, actor and producer. A stem cell donor for her father after he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, Urvi continues to support her father who is still in active treatment.

Luke Brattan; Sydney FC A-League soccer star. Younger sister diagnosed with mixed phenotype acute leukaemia at just 23 years of age. A shock diagnosis as Luke’s sister was young and healthy. Thankfully she is now in remission. Luke has also lost a close friend to blood cancer and is passionate about raising blood cancer awareness and fundraising for the Leukaemia Foundation.

Humphrey B. Bear: Beloved Australian children’s icon. Craig Kocinski, one of Humphrey’s guardians, has both parents who are survivors of blood cancer. Together, he and Humphrey are dedicated to raising awareness of blood cancer and supporting children going through a blood cancer diagnosis.

For more information about blood cancer signs and symptoms, please visit the Leukaemia Foundation website.

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