All About Lymphoma – A Wide Spreading Cancer in Pakistan

seminar on lymphoma its prevention and treatment

To talk in detail about what is lymphoma, its symptoms, prevention, and treatment, give a full read of this article to know what was discussed during a seminar. A two-day public awareness seminar on World Lymphoma Awareness Day was carried out in Pakistan which involved consultant clinical hematologist, transplant physician, and radiation oncologist.

What is lymphoma?

Lymphomas are specific cancers that develop in the lymphatic system, or the body’s various lymph glands, as a result of the growth of abnormal white blood cells. The sixth most frequent type of cancer overall is lymphoma (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer).

The two primary kinds of lymphoma, which spread and require various treatments, are as follows:

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (accounts for about 90% of lymphomas) 
  • Hodgkin lymphoma (has a characteristic appearance in biopsies)

Warning Signs:

Common symptoms include: 

  • unexplained fever
  • swelling of one or more lymph glands such as in the neck or armpits
  • swollen abdomen
  • abnormal sweating, especially at night
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite
  • bruising or bleeding easily
  • weight loss
  • frequent infections
  • cough, chest pain or problems breathing
  • rash or itching.

It is time to see a doctor if someone has been suddenly losing weight and has swelling in any of their lymph nodes, particularly those in their neck, armpit, abdomen, or groin, since this could be a sign of lymphoma. It is one of the blood cancers with the quickest rate of growth being observed in Pakistan.

At a two-day public awareness seminar on World Lymphoma Awareness Day, Dr. Munira Borhany, consultant clinical hematologist and transplant physician and medical director at the National Institute of Blood Diseases & Bone Marrow Transplantation (NIBD), emphasized these facts. She stated, “This disease causes symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, unexplained weight loss, itchy skin and persistent fatigue.”

For its prevention, she further elaborated that, “The best way to prevent lymphomas is to maintain a healthy weight, stay physically active and adopt a healthy eating routine that includes lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains while limiting or avoiding red and processed meats, sugary drinks and highly processed foods.”

According to Dr. Munira Borhany, treatment options for lymphoma can include: 

  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy medications
  • Radiation therapy
  • Bone marrow transplantation

It can be a combination of the above treatments depending on the type and severity of the illness.

“Lymphomas can be broadly separated in two main types: low-grade or indolent or chronic, where the cancer cells grow and spread slowly; and high-grade or aggressive or acute lymphoma, where the cells grow and spread quickly but that have better cure rates as chemotherapy can effectively kill the cancer cells.”

“An advanced low-grade lymphoma is not curable, but not life-threatening, if the treatment is done properly, and on time, life is as good as any normal healthy person.”

The good news is that there have been many novel medicines developed as a result of extensive research in the field of lymphoma. These novel medicines, however, are frequently quite expensive. In order to work toward more justice in lymphoma care, this is a matter not only for individuals but also for society at large, she explained.

A perspective on radiation for lymphomas was provided by Dr. Azhar Rashid, director of clinical and radiation oncology at the NCCI and secretary of the Faculty of Radiation Oncology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan (CPSP). He stated:

“Radiation therapy is the integral part of the management in both Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas. Most recently, the advent of modern radiotherapy modalities, targeted and precision radiation delivery and rapid techniques like VMAT has revolutionized the result of radiation therapy. Current recommendations on reduced treatment fields, reduced radiation doses after chemotherapy has created the safe space for use of radiation therapy in this disease, and full fledged doses for recurrence of disease also carries valuable outcomes.”

“We can’t wait – there is an urgent need to improve the ways lymphomas are diagnosed, treated and to track its subtypes. When we track subtypes, we will understand the actual disease prevalence and outcomes and improve patient care and research,” Dr Azhar Rashid concluded and thanked the participants of the research.

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