National Consumer Survey Reveals Alarming Knowledge Gap about Blood Cancers

-The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society launches national education campaign during Blood Cancer Awareness Month in September -

Aug 29, 2013, 08:00 ET from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Aug. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Less than one half (46%) of adults polled in a new survey believe that blood cancers are one of three leading causes of cancer death in the U.S. In fact, blood cancers are the third leading cause of cancer death, behind cancers of the respiratory system, including lung cancer, and cancers of the digestive system, including colorectal cancer.1 The survey of 1,000 U.S. adults was commissioned by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to finding cures and providing access to treatments for blood cancer patients. 

This study reveals an alarming lack of knowledge among adults of all ages across the country about blood cancers, including forms of leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, and other blood cancers. Four in five adults (82%) were surprised to learn that more than 1 million U.S. adults are currently living with a blood cancer. Further, nearly nine in 10 adults (87%) were surprised to learn that about every four minutes one person in the US is diagnosed with a blood cancer; and nearly nine in 10 (86%) polled were surprised to learn that approximately every 10 minutes someone in the U.S. dies from a blood cancer.

"We conducted this survey to create awareness about blood cancers, and to drive home the need to focus on cures and access to therapies for blood cancer patients," states John Walter, LLS CEO & president. "As there are no means of preventing or early detection for most blood cancers, we must focus on cures.  Blood Cancer Awareness Month is the right platform to create a sense of urgency about the need to continue investing in lifesaving treatments and cures."

Investing in Cures

Over about 60 years, LLS has invested almost $1 billion in research to advance therapies and save lives, yet three in four adults (76%) were surprised to learn that LLS research grants have helped advance many of the most promising advances in cancer therapies, including targeted therapies and immunotherapies.  

Further, about three-quarters of adults polled (76%) believe it's up to the government, private industry and drug companies to fund cures for cancers, including blood cancers.  As well, nearly nine in 10 adults (86%) were surprised to learn that promising treatments for some chronic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, were initially tested and FDA-approved as treatments for blood cancers.

"LLS is changing the paradigm of philanthropy, driving research in areas of unmet medical need, and helping to bridge the gap between academic discovery and drug development," states Walter.  "We do that by creating partnerships with universities and biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to provide funding across the continuum from basic research through clinical trials."

Access to Treatments

"Therapies that don't make it to patients can't help them," states Mark Velleca, M.D., Ph.D., LLS chief policy and advocacy officer. "A key LLS priority is ensuring access to quality, affordable, coordinated care for blood cancer patients." LLS recently announced it has raised more than $200 million in funding for its Co-Pay Assistance Program, since its inception in 2007.  To date, LLS has helped approximately 36,000 patients through the co-pay program.

"With the looming implementation of the Affordable Care Act, LLS is uniquely positioned to be the voice for blood cancer patients, by providing education and guidance to patients as they navigate the new state exchanges.  LLS has a strong presence in Washington, D.C., advocating for patients directly with national and state policy makers," explains Velleca.

Additional Survey Findings Include:

  • Sixty-three percent (63%) polled think breast cancer is among the top three causes of cancer deaths, 27% think it's the number one cancer killer.  In fact, respiratory system cancers are the leading cancer killer, followed by digestive system cancers, then blood cancers, with breast cancer being the fourth leading cancer killer. 2
  • Nearly all Americans (97%) polled agree it's important for all blood cancer patients to have access to potentially life-saving treatments.   
  • Almost three in 10 adults who are aware of LLS (29%) associated the organization with funding research.  More than one-fifth of those adults aware of LLS (22%) associated the organization with providing help/information, specifically to people diagnosed with blood cancers, including leukemia and/or lymphoma.  

"Despite progress, more than a third of blood cancer patients still do not survive five years after their diagnosis, so more funding is needed to advance research, ensure access to treatments and help save more lives," Walter says. "I'm gratified that nearly all adults polled agree it's just as important to fund cures for blood cancers as it is for other types of cancers.  LLS is leading the way in funding research to advance breakthrough therapies and ensure access to treatments for all blood cancer patients.  LLS is saving lives not someday, but today."

Study Methodology

The survey was conducted online for LLS by Russell Research from July 26 - 31, 2013 among 1,007 adults ages 18 and older. The margin of error was +/- 3.1 percentage points.

Learn more about the LLS mission, get involved with one of our fundraising campaigns or donate to LLS directly.  Visit and Facts 2013, published by LLS at to learn more.

About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society ® (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provides free information and support services.  

Founded in 1949 and headquartered in White Plains, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit  Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

Kristin Hoose

1 American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2013. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2013.
2 American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2013. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2013.

SOURCE The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society