Better diversity, equity, and inclusion measures in blood cancer research can improve outcomes for many patients.
Blood disorders like leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma affect millions of people every day — they represent 10% of all new cancer cases and 9% of all cancer-related deaths. Every improvement of outcomes will save — and improve the quality of — those lives.
Recent advancements in the field of hematology offer many reasons to be optimistic about the future, but efforts in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within hematology will also have a real impact on that future.
Research into the treatment and prevention of blood cancers is producing exciting results.
Aside from the stimulating developments in CAR T-cell therapies, advances in gene discovery science combined with the use of advanced analytic platforms like single-cell sequencing have already had a tremendous impact.
Gene editing holds the potential to revolutionize how hematologists and other healthcare providers treat blood disorders.
At the same time, immunotherapies are moving beyond malignant disease to improve outcomes in a broader range of disorders.
Research into stem cell transplantation, cellular therapy, transfusion medicine, and other cutting-edge immune-based therapies is yielding a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of hematologic disease and revolutionizing treatment.
In the wake of a global pandemic that saw people with blood cancers suffering a much higher mortality rate from COVID-19 infections, an expanding understanding of the ways infectious diseases and blood cancer intersect promises to save even more lives in the future.
Diversity and inclusion
While the advances in research in hematology are exciting, they’re only half the story.
Initiatives in diversity, equity, and inclusion are not only vital in terms of the research and treatment of blood cancers and other disorders like leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, but they are also crucial to supporting both the patient community and the professionals doing the research and providing the care.
Diversity and access are crucial to the success of clinical trials, and increased access to hematologic healthcare for underserved populations serves a basic human right. In order to ensure awareness and access to everyone dealing with blood cancer or other blood disorders, a wealth of resources and initiatives have been established:
- The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has launched its “Turn it Red” Campaign during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, seeking to promote awareness of the work needed in the fight against blood cancers like leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma by lighting up iconic buildings and public spaces in red.
- The International Myeloma Foundation has established the M-POWER project as part of its Diversity Initiative. The project’s goal is to improve the short- and long-term outcomes for African Americans diagnosed with this blood disease by improving awareness and access to treatment and resources.
- The MPN Research Foundation, which pursues new treatments for the group of blood diseases known collectively as myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), has created a social media awareness campaign to educate the public about the importance of clinical trials and why participation is crucial. •The MDS Foundation has launched its Move for MDS program of community walks to raise awareness, push research, and encourage support for people affected by myelodysplastic syndromes.
- The CLL Society promotes increased equitable access through a dedicated focus on its web page and by providing resources and data that patients and their caregivers can use to combat the systemic bias that often affects blood cancer outcomes. Whether you or a loved one are dealing with a disease like leukemia, or if you’re a professional in the field of hematology, there are resources available to get informed, to get up to date about the issues surrounding equitable access — and to get involved.
If you or a loved one are dealing with a disease such as leukemia, or if you’re a professional in the field of hematology, you can find more information about cutting-edge treatments as well as DEI initiatives in the field by visiting https://www.hematology.org.