Each year, September is named as Blood Cancer Awareness Month. This awareness month was initiated to educate communities and to bring attention to the fight against blood cancer. According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), blood cancers are the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. Furthermore, blood cancers are the most common cancers among children, adolescents, and young adults. For those impacted by blood cancers, as with many diseases, early detection is often the most important factor in determining treatment success.

In 2019, it is estimated that 176,200 people will be diagnosed with a blood cancer. Furthermore, approximately every 3 minutes one person in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer. There are many different types of cancers that can affect the bone marrow, the blood cells, the lymph nodes, and other parts of the lymphatic system, which include leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Under these main types of cancer types there are more specific forms of cancers.

The most common types of blood cancers are leukemia and lymphoma. According to the American Cancer Society, Leukemia is a cancer of the white blood cells but can start in other blood cell types. There are several types of leukemia, which are divided based on how fast or slow they may grow, and where it starts. As for lymphoma , it is a cancer that starts in cells that are part of the body’s immune system. Due to the different types of leukemia and lymphoma, there are different treatments for each, which make it important to know which type you may have.

Understanding the importance that early detection is key to treatment success, members of the Texas House and Senate made improving patient access to treatments a priority during the 2015 legislative session. The passage of House Bill 21, known as the “Right to Try Act”, allowed patients with terminal illnesses to have increased access to potentially life-saving treatments. In addition to this bill, the legislature also allocated additional resources towards cancer research and prevention programs, such as the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). In the 86th legislative session, members passed HB 39, which repealed time limitations on the award of grants by CPRIT.

To learn more about blood cancer and the significance of this awareness month, please visit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Additional information about risk factors and prevention information is also available by visiting the American Cancer Society.

If you would like to review more about the legislature, please visit the Texas Legislature online at the Texas Legislature Online. If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office; 361-949-4603).

– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.state.tx.us or at 512-463-0672.