Like every year, the World Lymphoma Awareness Day is held on 15th September to remind us of the importance of this disease and of its accompanying symptoms, with the purpose of achieving a more precocious diagnosis, which is key in fighting this disease.
It is a type of cancer that affects the cells of the lymphatic system, which is pivotal in fighting infections and neoplastic diseases. This system is composed of lymph ganglia, the spleen, the thymus, and bone marrow; therefore, this type of cancer can affect different parts and organs in our body.
Some of the symptoms and signs of the lymphoma can be the painless swelling of the lymph ganglia in the neck, armpits, or groins; persistent fatigue; fever; night sweats; trouble breathing; loss of weight with no apparent cause, or itching of the skin.
It is true that manifestations in the disease’s debut can present similarities, there are many types of lymphomas, which are divided in two main groups:
- Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Mainly it is young people who suffer it, frequently men more than women. Its incidence is approximately 2-3 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in Europe, debuting in 1,300 cases per year in Spain (source: Globocan). Currently, the cause of its appearance is unknown; however, evidence exists that demonstrates that having suffered an infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) contributes to some cases. In the same way, people who are infected by HIV may be at a larger risk than the general population.
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It is the sixth most frequent cancer in women and the seventh in men, and it is more common in adults than in children. Every year 3-10 cases are diagnosed per 100,000 inhabitants, and its incidence is rising. In Spain, 8,200 people were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the year 2020. Currently, the reason of its appearance is not known with certainty, but there is a high chance that it occurs in people with weakened immune systems, some of which have had an organ transplant or are infected by HIV.
Each type of lymphoma behaves, propagates itself, and responds to treatment in a different way. Which is why a holistic approach, early, and individualized is key for its development and treatment. Precision medicine, in this sense, plays a pivotal role, since it will be able to detail how each case, each person, must be treated.
In this sense, the Asociación Española de Afectados por Linfoma, Mieloma y Leucemia (AEAL), commemorating World Lymphoma Awareness Day, has launched the initiative “The other side of lymphoma (La otra cara del lymphoma)”, with which they intend on reminding the general public of the non-specific symptoms that this type of cancer presents in blood, which must be detected as soon as possible.
Likewise, they also wish to claim the importance of having in mind that behind this disease there is a human being, which is why the diagnoses, treatments, and investment in research must not stop.