Blood cancer survival rates improving dramatically

January 28, 2019

Survival rates for patients with blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma – diseases that not that long ago were considered all but incurable – have increased dramatically.

According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the five-year survival rates for patients diagnosed with leukemia from 1960-63 was just 14 percent. Fifty years later, it reached 61 percent.

For Hodgkin lymphoma, the five-year survival rate has gone from 40 percent to 88 percent. Five-year survival rates for non-Hodgkin lymphoma has also improved from 31 percent to 73 percent since the 1960s.

“I can’t help but be proud and gratified that I work for an organization that has helped improve the survival rate of blood cancers,” said Dr. Rachel Beddard, Chief Medical Officer at BioBridge Global.

“Cancer has touched all of us in some way, either personally or through family and friends, and playing a part to help save and enhance the lives of those suffering from blood cancer makes every day worth it for me.”

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society based its numbers on data compiled by the National Cancer Institute. The institute estimated there will be more than 60,000 new cases of leukemia diagnosed in this country in 2018.

A study in Sweden tracking patients with chronic myeloid leukemia from 1973-2013 showed “vast improvements” in the life expectancies of patients. A summary of the study published by the Journal of Clinical Oncology noted that patients of all ages diagnosed in 2013 will, on average, lose less than three years from their lifetimes.

The study noted that a combination of drugs known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), stem cell transplants and other factors have “contributed to the life expectancy in patients with CML [chronic myeloid leukemia] approaching that of the general population.”

GenCure works in conjunction with Be The Match to add potential stem cell donors to the registry for patients. Peripheral blood stem cell collections for a large part of the state are done at GenCure as well.

Among children, the American Cancer Society reports that five-year survival rates for those diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia has “greatly increased over time and is now more than 85 percent overall.” Depending on the subtype of the condition, the five-year survival rate for children diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia is “now in the range of 60 to 70 percent.”

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