News

Importance of Clinical Trials
By Delaine Smith, CEO of ALLG

This year, almost 16,000 Australians will begin a long and gruelling journey with blood cancer.

Decades of research have led to vastly improved outcomes for blood cancer patients with survival rates rising 29 per cent. Although improved treatments and care are helping more people survive, sadly an Australian loses their life to blood cancer every two hours.

Delaine Smith The Australasia Leukaemia and Lymphoma Group (ALLG) CEO, Delaine Smith said that blood cancer research relies on testing new medications and new treatments under clinical trial conditions.

"Whether it is a whole new approach or an improvement on an established treatment, every single cancer drug on the market needs to be tested safely through a clinical trial".

"When a patient enters a trial, they become a partner in helping the research community understand the benefits of new therapies".

Virtually every cancer treatment available to people with cancer today is the direct result of a clinical trial. People with cancer who make an informed decision to participate in a clinical trial provide the gift of information that has helped scientists and doctors develop new ways to slow, halt and prevent cancer.

"Trials also give people access to promising new drugs that aren't on the market yet, Ms Smith said. By conducting national and international collaborative clinical trials at sites across Australia and New Zealand, Doctors and researchers are helping patients receive new treatments to extend and improve their quality of life".

Averaging 35 diagnoses every day, blood cancers death rates from Leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma have soared by a fifth in just over 10 years (The Leukaemia Foundation). The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show more than 4,580 people across Australia died from blood cancer in 2017, compared with 3,700 in 2006 (AIHW National Mortality Database) — an increase of over 20 per cent.

"Increases in funding means more people will have access to clinical trials, giving them a better chance at survival and a future with less long-term effects", said Ms Smith.

Blood Cancer is the third biggest cause of cancer death in Australia (The Leukaemia Foundation), yet the majority of Australians still are not aware of the disease and the devastating impact it has on families.

While more young people are surviving blood cancer, almost half of adult blood cancer patients (particularly people aged over 55) will die from the disease.

"We urgently need greater awareness of clinical trials and research to stop Australians dying from blood cancer", said Ms Smith.

"Clinical trials and research into some blood cancers, gets relatively little government support compared to other cancers, so we urgently need to find ways to help Australia's best cancer doctors and researchers with the funds they need for this critical work, Ms Smith said. We simply want better treatments and better lives".