Approximately 22,300 Canadians of all ages are diagnosed with leukemia, Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, myeloma, and related blood cancer disorders each year. Blood cancers are the third leading cause of cancer death in Canadian men and the fourth in women. Even with advancements in treatment, the five-year survival rate for most blood cancers is still lower than it is with many other types of cancer.

Despite this, the medical community is focused on the positives. Last month, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada (LLSC) proudly announced the awarding of 32 new research grants to advance the understanding and treatment of blood cancers. Two female researchers, Dr. Rena Buckstein and Dr. Dixie Mager, earned the highest category scores among this group of Canada’s leading blood cancer researchers.

“Typically, less than a third of the grant applications we receive each year are led by a female researcher,” says Alicia Talarico, President of the LLSC. “Despite these odds, the two research projects with the highest scores for both grant categories this year were led by female researchers, and we think that deserves our attention.”

Greater support provides greater success

Dr. Buckstein works with the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto and was a recipient of the Operating Grant from LLSC. She’s working to improve outcomes in lymphoma patients over the age of 60, and the findings from her study will have important implications for other types of cancers as well.

In Vancouver, Dr. Mager, who works with the BC Cancer Agency, earned top marks in the New Idea grant competition for her study investigating a safer, more cost-effective way of treating acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children. The results could see applications for lymphoma and other types of cancer, such as colorectal and breast cancer.

“Getting started on this project was difficult at first because I needed to find the funds to support the work,” she says. “Few agencies will take a chance on this type of novel research in its early stages.”

This year will see more than $3.7 million awarded in grants by the LLSC to world-class researchers in Canada, as they work toward a future where blood cancer can be conquered.