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It’s time to take action to address blood cancers in California

Capitol Weekly
September 22, 2023
By Dr. Darren Fong


OPINION – California is facing an uphill battle against blood cancers. In 2022, the state led the nation in lymphoma diagnosis. The state is also experiencing staggering Leukemia numbers, and more than 40 percent of last year’s cases ended fatally. As a community, it is time we work together to raise awareness about these diseases and create an environment that encourages breakthrough treatments and therapies.

The numbers California is experiencing in blood cancers are extremely concerning, and unfortunately, the American Cancer Society (ACS) predicts these numbers will get worse. In fact, the ACS forecasts that California will be the leading state for lymphoma, Leukemia and myeloma-related deaths in 2023. This information presents a serious need for attention and proactive measures to combat blood cancers effectively.

It is imperative that we create an environment focused on generating new treatments and progressive therapies to win the fight against blood cancers. Elected officials play a critical role in this endeavor. Their advocacy for increased funding for research is important to empower medical and biopharmaceutical experts to explore and develop innovative treatments. Furthermore, members of the greater healthcare community are crucial players in fostering a change. From hospitals and medical professionals to not-for-profits and community volunteers, a united front collaborating on the greater cause gives everyone the greatest hope.

As a community, we can create change by raising awareness. Constructing community outreach programs and educational campaigns will help others learn about blood cancers and the potential signs, symptoms and risk factors associated with them. Education encourages early detection, which can lead to timely intervention and improve survival rates.

With less than promising blood cancer statistics predicted for our state it’s easy to feel discouraged, but we can also use this to fuel a renewed focus on what we can do for patients facing these diseases. Let’s give them their best fighting chance and arm them with access to effective innovative medicines and treatments along with the education and support they need to make their best decisions. We owe it to those battling blood cancers today and to those who will face their battles in the future.

Dr. Warren Fong is a retired oncologist from Newport Beach specializing in hematology and current Chief Operating Officer of the Medical Oncology Association of Southern California.  


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