One in four people in Ireland are unaware of blood cancer

New research is part of the ‘Make Blood Cancer Visible’ campaign, launched today by Ger Loughnane, for Blood Cancer Awareness Month
Dublin, 5th September 2016: One in four people in Ireland are unaware of blood cancer, according to new research announced today as part of the ‘Make Blood Cancer Visible’ campaign.

The campaign has been launched by the Irish Cancer Society, Multiple Myeloma Ireland and Janssen Ireland to mark blood cancer awareness month in September. Three quarters of the research respondents
agreed that there are low levels of awareness of blood cancer in Ireland and only 10% of respondents reported that they had a lot of knowledge of the condition.

When asked to list the types of cancer that they hear about most, breast cancer (65%), lung cancer (19%) and prostate cancer (7%) were the top three mentioned with blood cancer scoring only 1%, highlighting the need for heightened awareness.

Blood cancer is an umbrella term for cancers that affect the blood, bone marrow, and lymphatic system.

There are approximately 140 different types of blood cancer – the main types being leukaemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

It accounts for around seven percent of all cancers diagnosed every yearand there are approximately 1,500 people in Ireland living with blood cancer. The ‘Make Blood Cancer Visible’ initiative, launched today by former Clare intercounty hurler and manager Ger Loughnane, is a European wide campaign developed to share the stories of people who are living with blood cancer demonstrating their physical and emotional journey. Ger Loughnane developed leukaemia in 2011 and joined the campaign to raise awareness and understanding of blood cancer amongst Irish people.

The ‘Make Blood Cancer Visible’ storybook, available on the Janssen.com/Ireland website contains personal stories of people across Europe living with blood cancers including Irish chronic
lymphatic leukaemia (CLL) survivor, Patrick Kilgannon from Mayo. Patrick has been living with CLL since 2002 when he was diagnosed after a routine cholesterol test by his GP.

Blood cancers can be difficult to identify due to the signs and symptoms that are experienced. Tiredness, anaemia, shortness of breath, recurrent infections, swollen lymph glands and weight loss
are just some of the symptoms which could be passed off for other common ailments. This adds to the ‘invisibility’ of the disease and the need for greater awareness among the general public.
Ger Loughnane, former Clare hurler and manager commenting on his blood cancer journey said, “When I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia I knew very little about the disease and the impact it would have on my life. I was diagnosed after a blood test, I was feeling tired, weak and had no energy for over a year but the symptoms were really severe in the three months before I was
diagnosed. I received four rounds of treatment, each for about six weeks so it was a lot of information to digest at a stressful time. It was hard but afterwards my bloods started to improve and thankfully now I’m out of the woods. Getting my diagnosis took a long time and I never thought to ask for a blood test. It’s important to share stories and inform people about blood cancer so
others know about the disease and its symptoms.”

Professor Elisabeth Vandenberghe, Consultant Haematologist , St James’s Hospital, said, “Blood cancer symptoms are varied, which can result in a delay in patients presenting for a medical exam.
Symptoms include tiredness, breathlessness, weight loss, bleeding or unexplained bruising, recurrent infections and painless swelling/masses in your neck, underarms and/or groin. If you are
experiencing any of these symptoms visit your GP for further investigation.”

Donal Buggy, Head of Services and Advocacy, Irish Cancer Society said, “It is very encouraging that 84% of people surveyed were interested in learning more about blood cancer. We hope that the
Make Blood Cancer Visible campaign will raise public awareness of blood cancer and highlight the issues facing people living with the condition. We would urge anyone who has received a blood
cancer diagnosis to seek support. The Irish Cancer Society provides a specialist Cancer Nurseline on 1800 200 700 and our website cancer.ie outlines our expert cancer information and support services, including Daffodil Centres in 13 major hospitals nationwide.

“People accessing our services generally start with a low level of knowledge about their disease, which can result in a lot of stress and worry about their future”, said Dr Patrick Hayden, Chairman of
Multiple Myeloma Ireland. “We are always striving to educate people and are delighted to support a campaign that aims to inform the public and support those living with blood cancer in Ireland”.
“Make Blood Cancer Visible has been developed by Janssen to help tell the stories of people who are living with blood cancer,” said Dr Leisha Daly, Country Director, Janssen Ireland. “We know from our
research that people often feel that their condition is overlooked so it is through brave people like Patrick Kilgannon making blood cancer visible by telling their personal story that others with a blood cancer diagnosis can seek information, strength and support.”
Visit cancer.ie or multiplemyelomaireland.org to learn more about blood cancer.

To read the Make Blood Cancer Visible storybook go to janssen.com/Ireland. Please share the storybook with your
friends and family and use the hashtag #MakeBloodCancerVisible to spread the word this Blood Cancer Awareness Month.
Follow @JanssenIE, @IrishCancerSoc and @MyelomaIreland to find out more.

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