Most Canadians Wouldn’t Know Where to Turn If Diagnosed With Blood Cancer, Survey Finds

Inês Martins, PhD avatar

by Inês Martins, PhD |

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Some 68 percent of Canadians would feel helpless if they or someone close to them received a blood cancer diagnosis, found a recent poll commissioned by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada (LLSC).

In the same survey, only 25 percent of the respondents felt sufficient services exist for patients with blood cancers such as myeloma, leukemia, lymphoma and Hodgkin’s disease.

The poll, conducted last December, involved 1,006 respondents representing a cross-section of Canada’s adult population. An estimated 138,000 Canadians have one of the 137 known types of blood cancers and associated disorders today.

“The biggest challenge we face is that blood cancers fly under the radar for Canadians,” LLSC President Alicia Talarico said in a press release. “Many people do not know what a blood cancer is, even though it is the fourth most-commonly diagnosed cancer type in Canada affecting anyone from children to adults. For World Cancer Day, we want Canadians to know that we offer many resources and programs at no cost that could empower them when faced with a blood cancer diagnosis.”

In January, the Toronto-based LLSC launched a public, week-long campaign called “We’re In This Together” aimed at anyone touched by blood cancer.

The resource is still online and provides reliable information on where to find patient services. It also helps friends and families find meaningful ways to show support through free webcasts. The LLSC estimates that one in every five Canadians knows someone who has a blood cancer.

Each year, the organization offers free information and support services to 27,400 patients and their families. In 2017, the LLSC spent $7.4 million on the delivery of services for Canadians affected by blood cancers.

For Halifax native Kris Osmond, it was about taking charge so that he could support his mother when he learned of her leukemia diagnosis.

“I needed to find answers to endless questions circling my mind at the time,” said Osmond. “I felt terribly helpless but I wanted to be a source of strength for her. So I tried to learn as much as I could about helping support a family member through the LLSC.”