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Leukaemia Foundation calls for greater awareness of myeloma among Australians as incidence rates set to more than double by 2035

Sunday May 1, 2022

  • 4 in 5 Australians not confident in recognising main symptoms of blood cancer, including myeloma.
  • Myeloma Awareness Month in May provides opportunity to educate Australians about signs and symptoms to enable earlier diagnosis.
  • Leukaemia Foundation continues to stand with myeloma patients to ensure access to best treatment, wherever they live.

With myeloma incidence rates set to more than double by 2035, the Leukaemia Foundation is urgently calling for greater awareness and equitable access to treatment across the country, so myeloma patients have the best chance of survival, no matter where they live.

As Myeloma Awareness Month launches today, Leukaemia Foundation CEO Chris Tanti said while survival rates for some blood cancers are improving, those diagnosed with myeloma only have a 50/50 chance of survival.

“As many as 4 in 5 Australians are not confident in recognising the main symptoms of a blood cancer, like myeloma, leaving them at risk of a life-threatening delayed diagnosis. With no way to prevent or screen for myeloma and no cure, it’s crucially important that Australians are able to identify myeloma symptoms to enable earlier diagnosis and treatment. With only a 50/50 survival rate, it could mean the difference between life and death[1].

“Sadly, 1,074 Australians lose their life to myeloma each year, and this figure is projected to more than double by 2035 – increasing to 3,037 people.[2] Myeloma Awareness Month is the perfect time to raise awareness of this disease, educate people on the signs and symptoms and encourage people to see their doctor if they’re concerned,” Mr Tanti said.

Myeloma is a complex blood cancer affecting the body’s plasma cells, which produce antibodies. Myeloma develops when plasma cells undergo a cancerous change and multiply at an increasing rate, taking over the bone marrow. Although myeloma is more common in older adults, sadly it can also impact adults as young as 30 years old.

Mr Tanti said it was important for Australians to understand what symptoms to look out for and contact their doctor if these symptoms didn’t improve to enable an earlier diagnosis.

“While myeloma symptoms include those associated with other blood cancers, patients also experience severe symptoms including weaker and thinner bones which are more prone to breaking as a result of this debilitating blood cancer,” Mr Tanti said.

Other common symptoms include bone pain, persistent tiredness, dizziness, anaemia, frequent or repeated infections, increased or unexplained bleeding or bruising or kidney damage and a high level of calcium in the blood.

Mr Tanti said the Leukaemia Foundation continues to stand beside Australians living with myeloma to be their voice and fight to get them access to the best treatment options, wherever they live.

“While treatment options and survival rates for some blood cancers are improving, the sad reality is that myeloma is not curable. Patients and their families face a potentially lengthy battle with multiple relapses and ultimately losing a loved one at the end of it all,” Mr Tanti said.

“We welcome listings for new myeloma treatments on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, including most recently elotuzumab which will be reimbursed for refractory and relapsed myeloma patients from 1 May. But we need to continue to improve access to new and innovative therapies for people living with myeloma.”

“Australia has strong health systems across the country achieving remarkable results, but we know there is more work to be done to ensure myeloma patients have the same access to the best treatments, services and care, at the right time, no matter where they live.”

For more information on myeloma, please visit the Leukaemia Foundation website at Alternatively, if you or a loved one are impacted by myeloma and need support, contact 1800 620 420.



Blood cancer signs and symptoms: Symptoms of all blood cancers can sometimes be subtle or even similar to other conditions, such as a flu. However, ongoing symptoms like recurrent infections, increased fatigue, night sweats, bone pain, bruising or enlarged lymph nodes should be immediately discussed with your GP or specialist. Early diagnosis can play a key role in surviving blood cancer, so it is critically important that you are examined and treated properly. If you or someone you love is diagnosed with blood cancer, reach out to the Leukaemia Foundation on 1800 620 420. Accessing our support is free of charge.

Last updated on June 3rd, 2022

Developed by the Leukaemia Foundation in consultation with people living with a blood cancer, Leukaemia Foundation support staff, haematology nursing staff and/or Australian clinical haematologists. This content is provided for information purposes only and we urge you to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis, treatment and answers to your medical questions, including the suitability of a particular therapy, service, product or treatment in your circumstances. The Leukaemia Foundation shall not bear any liability for any person relying on the materials contained on this website.