Monday, September 27, 2010

Education is crucial for lymphoma patients and caregivers

(ARA) - When someone says they have cancer, people often ask the stage of the cancer, as an indication of treatment or prognosis. However, with lymphomas, the specific type of disease (such as peripheral T-cell lymphoma) is equally as important as stage. Lymphoma is the most prevalent form of blood cancer in the United States, but there is a significant knowledge gap among Americans about this kind of cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, in 2010 an estimated 65,500 people are expected to be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and 8,500 people are expected to be diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. A recent survey commissioned by the Lymphoma Research Foundation, and funded through a grant by Allos Therapeutics, revealed that despite those facts, a majority of American adults (86 percent) remain unaware that there are 67 different types of lymphoma - 61 types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and six types of Hodgkin lymphoma.

Upon diagnosis, a patient's disease is first classified as Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin lymphoma and then further defined as B-cell or T-cell. Although all 67 types of lymphomas are classified as B-cell or T-cell at diagnosis, fewer than 20 percent of those surveyed had heard of either of these disease types.

With this greater understanding and ability to identify the individual types of lymphoma, health care professionals are better able to personalize treatment for the patients' specific disease. There are now targeted therapies for both B-cell and T-cell lymphomas, when only a few short years ago this was not the case. Understanding the specific type of lymphoma helps health care professionals and patients choose the best treatment option.

"Based on this recent survey, of those who personally knew someone with lymphoma, only half were aware of the specific type their friend or family member had been diagnosed as having," says Diane Blum, CEO of the Lymphoma Research Foundation. "At the Lymphoma Research Foundation, our mission is to increase these statistics so that patients, as well as caregivers, are fully informed about their disease and treatment options. We encourage patients and caregivers to learn as much as possible about their specific diagnosis so that they can play an active role in their treatment. Knowing and understanding the specific type of lymphoma is crucial to receiving the right treatment."

To find out more information about lymphoma, including disease-specific fact sheets, visit the Lymphoma Research Foundation website at www.lymphoma.org.

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