September 15, 2015
Guest blogpost by Béatrice Tardieu, Senior Director for Communication & Public Affairs at Janssen, a pharmaceutical company, which is part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies.
Every four minutes a new person is diagnosed with blood cancer; that amounts to more than 900,000 people each year. While less common than other cancers, such as breast cancer or prostate cancer, blood cancers cause a devastatingly higher percentage of fatalities. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) GLOBOCAN project estimates blood cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma will claim 95,355 lives this year in the EU alone.
These cancers are often aggressive and difficult to get rid of. For most, there is no cure. With this in mind, finding new methods to treat these patients becomes nothing less than a necessity.
Today is World Lymphoma Day; this month is Blood Cancer Awareness Month. Policymakers must be made aware of the alarming toll that blood cancers have on society. Blood cancers are diverse and difficult to discuss as a group, but through education, awareness and advocacy, we can ensure blood cancer research becomes a larger part of the public health agenda.
Tools and opportunities are available to us. The EU Cancer Control Joint Action (CanCon) provides an opportunity for those advocating for blood cancer research to let their voices be heard and to interact as a community, particularly with policymakers. Furthermore, other recent digital technologies have taken a step toward collecting this data in one easily accessible place and shining a light on previously unseen issues.
The Disease Lens (www.diseaselens.com/) is another tool that has changed how data and information on diseases is collected and presented. Previously, data on blood cancers was difficult to find, difficult to compare and difficult to draw conclusions from. The website’s simple, searchable format corrects this problem and provides insights into issues that would otherwise remain undetected and answers vital questions of policymakers, researchers, and the public.
The Disease Lens compiles data accumulated from public sources including the WHO, the European Commission, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufactures of America into a handy website that anyone can easily find and use.
In addition to such diseases as diabetes and HIV, the tool now covers nine types of cancer including 3 blood cancers. Data on five new cancers has been recently added; the website now provides information on Breast Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, Waldenström’s Macroglobulinemia, Multicentric Castleman’s Disease, and Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma.
Perhaps most importantly, the Disease Lens makes its data available to everyone, on every device. It allows you to access data on 20 diseases and 31 countries including Norway, Switzerland and Israel in addition to the 28 EU member states. It compares data by country, compares diseases to each other, and even highlights important facts about each disease.
The Disease Lens has changed how these diseases will be studied and perceived. By creating it, the Janssen Health Policy Centre aims to start the conversation about the burden of diseases carried by society, and has given policymakers and healthcare professionals a useful tool to use in the fight against diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, hepatitis C, diabetes and depression – diseases which take a high toll on every citizens.Blogactiv Team