Alarming jump in these cancer diagnoses

Despite falling rates of smoking, lung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Australia. And breast cancer is still the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, although with mass screening and early detection, survival rates are much higher.

However, there has been an alarming increase in another group of cancers.

New figures released this week show a 30 per cent rise in the past decade in all forms of blood cancers, putting this group of cancers in second place in both diagnoses and deaths.

These latest rankings come at a time when the Leukaemia Foundation is experiencing a 30 per cent increase in demand for its services as more Australians living with blood cancer than ever before reach out for support.

Newly appointed foundation chief executive Chris Tanti says this sobering combination makes the 2021 World’s Greatest Shave campaign, launched this week, one of the most important in the organisation’s history.

“These new findings confirm that we really are dealing with some of the nation’s most diagnosed and deadly cancer killers – and that there is simply no time to waste to cure and conquer blood cancer,” Mr Tanti said.

“Last year alone, 17,321 people were diagnosed with a blood cancer such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma, and we know that come 2035, more than twice as many Australians will be diagnosed every year.”

Ageing is one of the leading causes of blood cancers, although they are also the most common cancer in children.

Now in its 23rd year, the World’s Greatest Shave aims to raise $15 million, as it braces for a spike in blood cancer diagnoses as COVID-19 restrictions ease and more Australians seek health check-ups.

“The reality is blood cancer doesn’t stop for a global pandemic and we know that for every day since COVID-19 began, another 47 Australians would have developed blood cancer even if they don’t yet know it,” Mr Tanti said.

“That is why we are urging Australians not to postpone trips to their doctor and to address any health concerns immediately. Ongoing symptoms such as recurrent infections, increased fatigue or bruising or enlarged lymph nodes should be urgently discussed with your GP.”

Money raised from the World’s Greatest Shave will support families affected by blood cancer, and help research scientists continue their search for better ways to diagnose and treat blood cancer.

‘Shave Week’ is 10-14 March. Join the fight against blood cancer and register by downloading the app, signing up online at or calling 1800 500 088 for more information.

Did you put off a regular health check during the height of the pandemic?

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Written by Rebecca Tolan

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