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Published on September 03, 2014

Local program to raise awareness about blood cancers

By Aynsley Anderson, Lawrence Memorial Hospital

September is National Blood Cancer Awareness Month. To help raise awareness about blood cancers, which include leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma, Lawrence Memorial Hospital and the Mario’s Closet Committee are co-sponsoring a free educational program.

Sharon Soule, MD Oncology“Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma: a Story of Hope Over the Decades” will be presented from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 11, at the LMH Auditorium. Dr. Shari Soule of the LMH Oncology Center and Dr. Ajay Tejwani of the Lawrence Cancer Center will provide an overview of the diagnosis of blood cancers and the latest treatment options. They will be followed by Dr. Rod Barnes of Lawrence Family Medicine and Obstetrics who will share his personal journey as a cancer survivor.

What is blood cancer?

The American Society of Hematology lists three main types of blood cancers:

Leukemia is a type of cancer found in your blood and bone marrow. It is caused by the rapid production of abnormal white blood cells. The abnormal cells are not able to fight infection, and they impair the ability of the bone marrow to produce red blood cells and platelets.

According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, 52,380 people are expected to be diagnosed with leukemia in 2014. There are an estimated 310,046 people living with or in remission from leukemia in the United States.

Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that affects the lymphatic system, which removes excess fluids from your body and produces immune cells. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that fights infection. Abnormal lymphocytes become lymphoma cells, which multiply and collect in your lymph nodes and other tissues. Over time, these cancerous cells impair your immune system.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society reports there are expected to be 79,990 new cases of lymphoma in 2014. There are an estimated 731,277 people living with or in remission from lymphoma in the U.S.

Myeloma is a type of blood cancer that specifically targets your plasma cells. Plasma cells are white blood cells that produce disease- and infection-fighting antibodies in your body. Myeloma cells prevent the normal production of antibodies, leaving your body's immune system weakened and susceptible to infection. Myeloma rarely occurs in people under age 45; the median age at diagnosis is 69 years.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society notes that from 1975 to 2010, the incidence of myeloma increased by 29.5 percent, and the incidence of myeloma in black males and females was 126 percent greater than in white males and females in 2010. There are an estimated 88,490 people living with or in remission from myeloma in the U.S.

Approximately every 10 minutes, someone in the United States dies from a blood cancer; equaling 152 people each day or more than six people every hour. The positive side is that the likelihood of dying from most types of leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma decreased from 2000 to 2010 (the most recent data available) and that the death rates for childhood and adolescent blood cancers declined steadily from 1975 to 2010.

More information on blood cancers can be found online at:

American Society of Hematology, hematology.org

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, lls.org

Plan to attend the special program at LMH on Sept. 11. Join us between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. for light refreshments and exhibits of cancer resources. The educational program begins at 6:30 p.m. and is free, but advance registration is requested. To reserve your spot, call 749-5800 or go to lmh.org.

Aynsley Anderson, MA, RN, is Community Education Coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which is a major sponsor of WellCommons. She can be reached at aynsley.anderson@lmh.org.

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