Research is inching us closer to cures for blood cancer every day – among them, therapies that unleash the immune system, reprogramming of T-cells to track down cancer cells, and personalized treatments based on a patient’s genetic make-up.
Survival rates for patients with many blood cancers have doubled, tripled and even quadrupled since the early 1960s. Cures for many patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and Hodgkin lymphoma have been achieved, and the five-year survival rate for children with ALL climbed from 3 percent to approximately 90 percent. The survival rate for myeloma patients more than tripled in the past decade.
Yet about one third of patients with a blood cancer still do not survive five years after their diagnosis. And unlike many other diseases, there are no means of preventing or screening for blood cancers.
Every three minutes, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer, and more than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with, or in remission from, a blood cancer. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) funds research, offers support services to patients and caregivers, and advocates to make sure patients can access the care they need.
The Latest Research
LLS-funded research is fueling many of today’s most promising advances, including targeted therapies and immunotherapies. New safe and effective treatments, once unimaginable, are saving lives that would have been lost. More than 40 percent of new cancer therapies approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were first approved for blood cancer patients.
Research teams are testing different approaches to activate the immune system to kill cancer cells. (CAR) T-cell immunotherapy, where immune system T-cells are removed from the body and reprogrammed to track down tumor cells, continues to make headlines.
A five-month stretch of 2015 saw the approval of five new myeloma therapies (panobinostat, carfilzomib, daratumumab, ixazomib and elotuzumab). The past two years has seen an explosion of new treatment options for CLL patients, including targeted therapies such as ibrutinib, idelalisib, obinutuzumab and the still experimental chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell immunotherapy. Venetoclax, an investigational compound, was granted priority review last month by the FDA.
LLS’s Beat AML collaboration with several academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies is employing advanced genomic technology to develop personalized treatments for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients.
Several LLS-funded researchers are working on check point inhibitors that allow the immune system to be unleashed and kill cancer cells, and that show promise for patients with relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma.
What You Can Do
Find information on individual diseases, support resources and educational programs, videos and booklets. Call an Information Resource Center specialist to assist you through cancer treatment, financial and social challenges and give accurate, up-to-date disease, treatment and support information.
LLS raised approximately $300 million in 2015 through a number of major fundraising campaigns, including Team In Training, the only endurance sports training program for charity that raises money for blood cancer research, and the Light The Night Walk, which bring families, friends and co-workers together in nearly 200 communities across North America each fall. Man & Woman of the Year has passionate candidates competing to win a national title, and Student Series fundraisers have youngsters across the nation learning about service, leadership and philanthropy.
We are committed to ensuring that patients have access to an adequate network of providers and services and are protected from high out-of-pocket costs that limit access to life-saving treatments. Our Office of Public Policy drives policies that accelerate the development and approval of innovative treatments and ensure that patients have sustainable access to quality, affordable coordinated care.
This month marks the launch of recruitment for Light The Night. Sign up now for a motivational experience you will never forget.