Media event date: 
1 September 2019
Date published: 
2 September 2019
Media type: 
Media release
Audience: 
General public

The Morrison Government will establish an expert National Taskforce, and commission a National Action Plan to improve diagnosis, treatment and the understanding of blood cancers. 

There are three major types of blood cancer, leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma that account for almost nine per cent of all cancers diagnosed and almost 10 per cent of all cancer deaths.  

In 2019, more than 12,000 Australians will be diagnosed with leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.  

Survivors can face lifelong side effects so we must find ways to ease the burden on adults, children, their families and the wider community.  

This Action Plan will concentrate our collective efforts to drive better health outcomes and improve survival for all Australians diagnosed with blood cancer.   

It will develop a comprehensive blueprint for action and provide its advice and recommendations to the Government.   

The Morrison Government will provide $150,000 to the Leukaemia Foundation to support the development of the National Action Plan.  

The Blood Cancer Taskforce will be co-chaired by Mr Bill Petch, CEO, Leukaemia Foundation and Professor John Seymour AM, Director of Cancer Medicine and Haematology at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.  

The taskforce will work with leading clinicians, Cancer Australia, researchers, industry and patient groups in the blood cancer community to recommend actions across the cancer control continuum that will reduce mortality from, and improve outcomes for people with blood cancer.                

The Taskforce’s work will include:

  • Providing advice to the Government on the state of blood cancer in Australia including variations in health service delivery and survival outcomes in urban and regional areas
  • reviewing domestic and international evidence and experience, including a stocktake of current practice, programs and initiatives, with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds
  • ensuring the Action Plan reflects the outcomes of a comprehensive consultation process and identifies best practice, evidence-based recommendations that can be implemented across the sector by governments and non-government organisations.   

Since 2013, the Australian Government, through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), has invested more than $213 million for research into blood cancer including $4.4 million for leukaemia related research last week through the latest round of NHMRC grants.  

We continue to list all new medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) including several new listings for blood cancer.   

From 1 August 2019, patients have been able to access Sprycel® for the treatment of Philadelphia chromosome positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. Without PBS subsidy, patients would pay over $51,000 each year for this medicine, but through the PBS they will pay $40.30 or $6.50 per script.  

We have also made the revolution CAR-T cell treatment available for certain types of leukaemia which is offering patients the chance of a cure.  

The Blood Cancer Taskforce membership currently includes 21 members:  

  1. Professor Sanchia Aranda, Cancer Council Australia
  2. Dr John Bashford, Icon Group & Private Cancer Physicians of Australia
  3. Dr Joe Collins, Lions Club International 
  4. Dr Chris Fraser, Australian and New Zealand Children’s Haematology/Oncology Group
  5. Professor Maher Gandhi, Mater Research Institute
  6. Professor David Gottlieb, Westmead Hospital 
  7. Barbie Hartigan, Leukaemia Foundation Patient Support
  8. Professor Tim Hughes, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute
  9. Dr Paul Jackson, Cancer Australia 
  10. Professor David Joske, Solaris Health WA
  11. Melanie Kelly, Insight Economics
  12. A/Professor Steven Lane, QIMR Berghofer
  13. A/Professor Peter Mollee, Australasian Leukaemia & Lymphoma Group
  14. Professor Miles Prince, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
  15. Professor Andrew Roberts, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute 
  16. Professor John Seymour, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
  17. Deborah Sims, Blood Cancer Survivor 
  18. Dr Delaine Smith, Australasian Leukaemia & Lymphoma Group 
  19. Elizabeth de Somer, Medicines Australia
  20. Dr Will Stevenson, Haematology Society of Australia & New Zealand 
  21. Richard Vines, Rare Cancers Australia
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