- One of the population subgroups most affected by Hodgkin's lymphoma, of which about 30 cases per million inhabitants are diagnosed annually in our country, is young people between 15 and 35 years of age
- Between 30 and 70 people per million inhabitants in Spain are diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma each year, which usually affects patients over 60 years of age and the prognosis depends on the tumor subtype
- Predicting how a patient will respond to treatment to avoid relapse and offering new therapeutic options to those who exhaust all lines of treatment are currently the priorities of lymphoma research
Madrid, September 10, 2020.- More than 80% of patients diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL) achieve remission of their disease thanks to the correct diagnosis followed by appropriate treatment and controlled by specialists with experience in dealing with the disease. "It is one of the most curable cancers today," says Dr. Adolfo de la Fuente, head of the Hematology Service at MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid.
That good news is even more positive if we take into account that the disease has two very clear peaks in terms of incidence, one of which is in the young, between 15 and 35 years of age. The second affects those of 55 and over. Every year, 30 cases of LH are diagnosed per million inhabitants in Spain.
Despite a good initial prognosis, HL patients who do not achieve complete remission after initial treatment, or patients who relapse later, face a slightly more complicated prognosis. In addition, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), the second type of lymphoma, which usually affects people of 60 and over, does not usually have such a good prognosis as HL. “Although a lot depends on the subtype of NHL diagnosed, it is true that we have not achieved such high cure rates”, explains Dr. de la Fuente. Each year, about 70 cases of NHL are diagnosed per million inhabitants in our country.
For this reason, on the occasion of World Lymphoma Day, held next Tuesday, September 15, the doctor feels the need to emphasize the importance of continuing research in the field of lymphoma, with the aim of meeting two urgent medical needs that do not yet have a medical solution.
First of all, Dr. de la Fuente considers it necessary to investigate techniques capable of “predicting how a patient will respond to a treatment before administering it, since this would help avoid relapse and exposing people to treatments that are not effective for the disease they suffer from. Likewise, the doctor highlights the need for more research into new therapeutic options for those patients who exhaust all lines of treatment available. "At MD Anderson Madrid we work to provide access to new treatment options through our participation in national and international clinical trials".
Enlargement of the lymph nodes, the first symptom of LH and NHL
Although more than half of the patients have no symptoms when they are diagnosed, there is a very characteristic sign that points to a possible lymphoma – an enlarged lymph node with no apparent cause. Faced with this situation, Dr. de la Fuente's recommendation is "to see a specialist in oncohematology to confirm or rule out the diagnosis by means of a blood test, imaging tests and a biopsy if appropriate".
Within the two types of lymphoma, LH and NHL, there are many subtypes, each of which requiring different monitoring and treatments, so, the doctor stresses that “an accurate diagnosis is essential to ensure the patient receives the best treatment for their specific disease”. For that reason, Dr. de la Fuente recommends attending a center with a team of specialists in dealing with the different subtypes of lymphoma.
As an example, Dr. de la Fuente points to NHL, which is fundamentally divided into two subgroups, each of which has in turn different subtypes - indolent NHL and aggressive NHL. In the case of aggressive NHL, which tends to grow and spread rapidly, prompt diagnosis and treatment is crucial to prevent the tumor from continuing to spread. However, in the case of indolent NHL, which is less aggressive in behavior, treatment is not always administered immediately, and on occasions, the initial recommendation may be to monitor the evolution of the disease.
In these cases, one decision or another may significantly affect the patient's prognosis and, therefore, Dr. de la Fuente reiterates, it is important, and necessary, that any decision on the treatment a patient with lymphoma should follow be debated by a multidisciplinary tumor committee involving specialists with extensive experience in dealing with different types of lymphoma.