Approximately every 3 minutes one person in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer. That means around 14,000 patients will receive this diagnosis during September – Blood Cancer Awareness Month. As the leader of Takeda’s Global Oncology Business Unit, Dr. Christophe Bianchi considers this month an important reminder to take a step back and reflect on the impact of blood cancer and the importance of being relentless in the effort to develop new and more effective blood cancer medicines for patients. Below, he shares his perspectives.
Q. What challenges do patients with blood cancer face?
Over the last several decades, outcomes for people with blood cancers have improved dramatically with the advent of more effective and less toxic treatments. That said, patients still face numerous challenges.
One of the most disheartening obstacles people with cancers such as Hodgkin lymphoma and multiple myeloma encounter is relapse. Patients may find themselves in what seems like an endless cycle of therapies, relapsing just as they thought their treatment was effectively controlling their disease. In addition, standard chemotherapies often damage more than just cancer cells, leading to significant and sometimes debilitating side effects.
Patients treated with IV therapies often must take time off from work, and find transportation to a hospital, clinic or physician’s office to receive their therapy. Access to treatment can be another roadblock for patients.
Given these challenges, people living with blood cancers need new treatments that are not only effective and safe, but also simple, practical and sustainable. Patients who aren’t able to sustain current treatments have less positive outcomes, and our team is committed to changing that.
Q. How are you addressing those challenges?
At Takeda Oncology, we understand the impact that blood cancer diagnosis has on patients and caregivers and the stress it causes. We have worked closely with patients to learn about their challenges and needs and have translated what we’ve gleaned from their experiences into the development of innovative medicines.
We know that we need to bring together the power of leading scientific minds and the resources of a global pharmaceutical company to tackle all of the challenges patients face, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. Our commitment to science and our constant focus on improving the lives of people with cancer has enabled us to deliver a strong portfolio of therapies. And we continually grow that portfolio thanks to our leading oncology pipeline.
Q. What do you believe is most important to defeat cancer?
The global oncology community is making great strides in the fight against blood cancer, but we can always do more. To expand our ability to innovate and deliver new therapies to patients, we’re partnering with other leaders in oncology, investigating both blood and other cancer types.
Curing cancer is a bold ambition. But in partnership with our global team of scientists, researchers, clinicians and collaborators around the world, I know that we are up to the task.