World Lymphoma Awareness Day is September 15th. Lymphoma is the fifth most common cancer in Canada after lung, breast, prostate and colon.
Montreal, September 11, 2013 – World Lymphoma Awareness Day is September 15th. Lymphoma is the fifth most common cancer in Canada after lung, breast, prostate and colon. According to the most recent 2013 cancer statistics, nearly 9,000 people per year in Canada are diagnosed with lymphoma, and almost 2,000 of them will be in Quebec. Since its launch on July 3rd, the “Same Chances” campaign, which denounced the fact that bendamustine, a promising new treatment for patients with lymphoma not available in Quebec, the situation has remained unchanged.
Remember that this treatment, in combination with rituximab, is accessible to the majority of other Canadian provinces and prolongs survival without disease progression for patients with indolent non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (iNHL) from 31.2 months to 69.5 months (almost 6 years). In addition, its efficacy is superior with less toxicity, which in turn results in less secondary effects and a better tolerance for patients.
“We want to offer our Quebec patients the best available treatments and we refuse to allow administrative barriers to stop us while our colleagues in other Canadian provinces and their patients have access,” asserts Dr. Pierre Laneuville, a hematologist at the Royal Victoria Hospital and the spokesperson for the “Same Chances” campaign, and is supported by more than thirty of his hematologist-oncologist colleagues from all regions of Quebec. According to Dr. Laneuville, only the minister is able to solve the problem. That is why he’s asking the minister “to request that the Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS) provide an opinion on the therapeutic value of the combination of bendamustine and rituximab (BR) in the treatment of iNHL.”
This opinion, which INESSS should make public, would facilitate, where appropriate, the use of the BR combination in health facilities. It would, therefore, eliminate the inequity in obtaining treatment and would be in the best interest of lymphoma patients in Quebec.
Mrs. Tracey-Ann Curtis, the Quebec Regional Manager for Lymphoma Canada, echoes Dr. Laneuville’s opinion, in her letter sent to the Minister on August 16th. She states that, “bendamustine and rituximab treatments have each been approved by Health Canada for use against lymphoma in Canada on the basis of their efficacy and safety. Their combined use has been the subject of international clinical studies and undeniably demonstrates its effectiveness.” Moreover, she adds, “Only the Minister is able to make this treatment available to all lymphoma patients in Quebec.”
Mr. Jean-Pierre Garneau, himself a lymphoma patient said, “Patients diagnosed with iNHL and their families should not be concerned about government policies and bureaucracy to access the best possible care. We patients and our loved ones need all our energy to fight cancer, not the health system.”
Significant mobilization of Quebec’s concerned population
Since its launch, “Same Chances” has led, within Quebec’s population, a public advocacy campaign through which patients, their families and individuals touched by cancer and concerned about the current situation responded by email, letter and on Facebook. In addition, the Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec, which includes close to fifty cancer-focused organizations, has also demonstrated its support of the campaign. We appeal to the public for its continued support.
For more information, visit www.memeschances.ca. To support the “Same Chances” campaign, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, including your contact information (name, address, telephone number and email address). You can also comment on the Facebook page www.facebook.com/memeschances
About Lymphoma Canada
Lymphoma affects many people, from patients, family and caregivers, to medical professionals and researchers. Lymphoma Canada connects and empowers this community through education, support, and research. Together we are promoting early detection, finding new and better treatments, helping patients access those treatments, learning lymphoma’s many causes, and finding a cure. For more information about this registered charity, please visit lymphoma.ca