Novartis makes sculptures to shape knowledge of cancer symptoms

Novartis has enlisted artists to help raise awareness of rare blood cancers, commissioning sculptures that portray the 10 key symptoms of the conditions to create a temporary exhibition that will tour the U.K.  

The art exhibition is focused on symptoms of myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN), a group of rare blood cancers that affect around 4,100 people in the U.K. each year. Novartis sells Jakavi for the treatment of MPNs in the U.K., recently securing coverage for one of the three main types of the blood cancer, and wants to spread knowledge that enables more cases to be identified early.

MPNs cause symptoms, such as fatigue, loss of concentration and night sweats, that overlap with other conditions, leading to delayed diagnoses. Novartis wants to bump MPNs up the list of potential causes that patients and physicians consider when they encounter the symptoms. 

“More needs to be done to recognize and identify these symptoms early so that people living with the condition can seek help from medical professionals to better manage their symptoms, and those who are undiagnosed can seek a potential diagnosis sooner,” Alisia O'Sullivan, a MPN patient and MPN Voice volunteer, said in a statement.

To support that goal, the Swiss drugmaker has identified 10 key symptoms and commissioned sculptures to represent each of them. Each sculpture is in the shape of the number assigned to the symptom and features art that portrays the symptom. For example, symptom two, inactivity, displays a painting of someone sleeping under a blue sky and symptom three, weight loss, features a quote about being thin.

Novartis worked with MPN Voice and five mural artists from around the U.K. to create the sculptures and began showing them at Westfield, a shopping center in London, last week. The art exhibition will run for one week at Westfield and then go on a tour of U.K. cities. 

Encouraging people to consider MPNs as an explanation for the 10 symptoms could support growth products for the condition. Novartis’ sales of Jakavi increased by 11%, rising to $435 million, in the second quarter on the back of demand in emerging markets, Japan and Europe.