Early diagnosis key to cure lymphoma, say doctors

Early diagnosis key to cure lymphoma: Doctors

New Delhi: Proper and timely diagnosis of lymphoma is key and may also cure the disease for life, said doctors on Wednesday.

The Mayo Clinic defines lymphoma as a cancer of the lymphatic system -- part of the body's germ-fighting network. The lymphatic system includes the lymph nodes (lymph glands), spleen, thymus gland, and bone marrow. Lymphoma can affect all those areas as well as other organs throughout the body.

Lymphoma remains a significant public health problem worldwide and a leading cause of cancer in India. It has a projected incidence of 52,942 cases in 2020 and a cumulative risk of 1 in 236 individuals, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Global Oncology.

It develops in white blood cells called lymphocytes, and is basically of two types: Hodgkins (develops in the upper body, like neck, chest or armpits) and non-Hodgkins (may develop in lymph nodes anywhere in the body).

"Lymphoma has many entities with different disease patterns, different outcomes and varied treatment. With newer treatment methods the cure rate has become higher but what is required is early diagnosis," said Dr Rahul Bhargava, Director, Department of Clinical Hematology and Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT), Fortis Hospital New Delhi/Gurugram.

"Often lymphoma is misdiagnosed as Tuberculosis (Tb), so it becomes important to diagnose it correctly, the only way these two can be separated is by biopsy and blood work," he added.

Fewer, swollen lymph nodes, night sweats, chest pain, loss in appetite and weight loss, and stomach ache are the most common symptoms of lymphoma. Any of these symptoms should be reported to the doctor without delay, the doctor suggested.

"After the diagnosis, the right treatment plan is very important. Modern treatment methods along with safe and effective treatment options like BMT have helped improve the clinical outcomes in a big way," Bhargava noted.

According to the experts, if diagnosed on time, lymphoma can be successfully treated with medication, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or stem-cell transplant and BMT.

BMT is a feasible treatment option for patients who have been diagnosed with terminal lymphoma and are often given a few months to live, said doctors.

With the country taking a lead in cancer treatment, it is high time when more people should know about the advanced treatment options and avail its benefits.

While the risk of lymphoma is higher in men than in women, and overall in people in their 60s or older, some types of lymphoma are more common in young adults as well as in children.

B-cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma is the most common type of childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma and occurs when B cells, one of the two types of lymphocytes, grow uncontrollably and become cancerous.

"Paediatric lymphoma is the third commonest paediatric malignancy. They behave very differently from adult lymphomas. If diagnosed early and treated in a disciplined manner, most of the pediatric lymphomas can be cured for life," said Dr Gaurav Kharya, Senior Consultant, Paediatric Haematology, Oncology and Immunology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi.

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