By Dr. Louis J. DeGennaro, LLS President and CEO | January, 2018

We’ve just concluded one of the most historic years on record in terms of new therapy approvals for blood cancers. In all, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved 18 therapies to treat patients with blood cancers, including some entirely new agents and some new uses for already approved drugs.

Among these approvals were the first new therapies – four to be precise – for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) after a 40-year drought in treatment advances for this deadly blood cancer. And two revolutionary CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) T-cell immunotherapies, which reprogram the body’s own T cells to find and kill cancer cells were approved for patients with leukemia and lymphoma. I’m proud to say that The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) played a role in all but three of these advancements.

These achievements demonstrate that we’ve reached a new era in cancer treatment, but these new therapies can’t save lives if patients don’t have access to them. Consider the impact of natural disasters such as Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria on blood cancer patients, who faced added distress from the loss of property and medical care to due flooding and not being able to reach their treatment centers. As a patients first organization, LLS committed up to $1 million to provide direct support to impacted communities in 2017, helping more than 1,500 patients and their families during their time of great need.

Looking ahead, I expect the rapid pace of progress to accelerate this year, and LLS will continue to lead the charge to advance cutting-edge research to find cures and  ensure patients have access to these therapies.

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