Raising Awareness about Blood Cancers: A Diverse and Complex Group of Diseases

August 31, 2020     

Blood Cancers: A Diverse and Complex Group of Diseases

Patient with blood cancer discussing needs with health care provider.

Patient with blood cancer discussing needs with health care provider.

Each September during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, we recognize the more than 1.3 million people in the U.S. living with or in remission from a form of blood cancer.  

Blood cancers are a diverse group of diseases, with more than 100 types of lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). While this is a time to reflect on the extraordinary advances science has made in recent years in the treatment of these diseases, blood cancers continue to account for more than 10% of all new cancer diagnoses each year.

Now more than ever, these numbers may also be increasing on account of the barriers to care the COVID-19 pandemic has created. People may be delaying routine blood work and checkups, allowing for certain cancers to go undetected, or for diseases to progress to more advanced stages – ultimately worsening prognosis and patient outcomes. Unfortunately, the pandemic has also caused disruptions in clinical trials. The National Cancer Institute has estimated that enrollment in cancer clinical trials has declined since the start of the pandemic, creating delays in clinical research activities.

With Progress Comes New Challenges


Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, much progress has been made over the past two decades to understand the disease biology and treatment of many blood cancers, like multiple myeloma, that has significantly altered survival rates in patients. With a range of new treatment options and advanced technologies that have enabled earlier diagnoses, people with many forms of these diseases are living longer and better than ever before.  

Still, there's more to do to improve survival and extend periods of remission. Through our broad clinical development program and diverse portfolio, we’re evaluating a range of potential new therapies and combinations for blood cancers that remain hard-to-treat, to ensure we’re leaving no patient behind.  

Supporting a Growing Patient Community: The Road Ahead


There are also many new considerations for patients in today’s environment, who may be facing issues with access to treatment, inadequate blood supply or are experiencing added stress and isolation. That’s why we partner with many advocacy organizations that provide resources and harness the invaluable connection of the virtual patient community.  

We’re optimistic that the lessons learned during this time will yield more effective and accessible approaches to clinical trial design, helping us reach more patients and continuing to accelerate the development of new options that are urgently needed.   

As we reflect on progress made and our path forward during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, one thing is certain: we can’t do this alone. We’re continuing to partner with a broad network of researchers, healthcare professionals and advocacy groups to develop more personalized and effective treatment options, resources and support until we’ve identified an approach for every patient. 

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