Lymphoma is a hematological malignancy that affects the blood cells (lymphocytes). Lymphocytes (white blood cells) are part of the body's immune system. Lymphoma affects the lymph nodes and other types such as the spleen, liver, and bone marrow. World Lymphoma Awareness Day (WLAD) is held on September 15 every year and is a day dedicated to raising awareness of lymphoma, an increasingly common form of cancer. It is a global initiative to raise awareness about lymphoma. Around the world, there are more than 735000 people diagnosed with lymphoma every year. We at Medicircle are conducting the World Lymphoma Awareness Day Series to impart basic knowledge and encourage people to know about lymphoma to detect cancer at an early stage.
Dr. Dinesh Bhurani is the Director at the Department of Hemato-Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre. He is DM Clinical Hematology from CMC, Vellore, and FRCPA from Australia. He received training and fellowship from Bone Marrow Transplantation. He has done close to 1000 transplants at Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre. His achievements are – First DM of Hematology in Oncology, first to perform haplo transplant in North India, credited with the maximum number of MUD Transplants in North India.
Lymphoma – Definition
Dr. Dinesh says, “Lymphoma is a type of cancer. It develops in lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell. These cells help fight disease in the body by destroying bacteria and viruses to prevent infection from spreading. Thus, it plays an essential role in the body’s immune defenses. When these cells start growing out of control due to cancer, it is called lymphoma. Lymph nodes are present all over the body and so this cancer can spread anywhere in the body.”
Dr. Dinesh mentions, “It is basically of two types – Hodgkin Lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma has several sub-categories, reasons, behaviors, symptoms, and treatment of these lymphomas differ from each other.”
Dr. Dinesh adds, “Lymphoma is a type of cancer that can be life-threatening if not controlled on time. But it is curable cancer. If it is detected early and treated timely, then the patient can fully recover. The cure rates of lymphomas are high compared to other cancers.”
Dr. Dinesh stresses, “Many people tend to ignore the lumps or swelling present in the neck, axilla or internal parts. Especially if there is any painless swelling which doesn’t go on its own, this is an alarming sign. Its early detection is very important for treatment. If it gets detected in the 3rd or 4th stage, it becomes difficult to treat. We all should have a family physician to whom we can consult for all our minor issues. If the physician is suggesting any further test, get it done on a prior basis. We need to be a little more careful about our health to diagnose simple problems at early stages.”
Ways to prevent lymphoma
Dr. Dinesh stresses, “There is no major cause for lymphoma. Like smoking and drinking cause lung cancer, lymphoma has no exact cause. A healthy lifestyle and following good habits prevent the risk of developing cancer. Indirect causes - avoid smoking and drinking, a little bit of exercise is a must, obesity, sugar control, and hypertension should be taken care of. All this reduces the chance of contracting the disease. There is no direct factor that causes lymphoma but indirect factors are many more like lifestyle. Moderation is the key to good health, avoid anything in excess.”
(Edited by Renu Gupta)