World Lymphoma Month 2020 Amplifying awareness to enhance patients’ chances of a full recovery
World Lymphoma Month and World Lymphoma Day on the 15th of September mark an important occasion where people worldwide come together to raise awareness and promote the fight against lymphoma; a deadly cancer which has a high incidence rate both in Thailand and internationally. Lymphoma is the most common form of blood cancer found in hematology, with over 6,000 new cases and up to 3,000 fatalities annually in Thailand, which is set to continue on an upward trajectory.
Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer caused by abnormalities within the white blood cells called Lymphocyte, which serves as one of the body’s immune cells. They can be found in lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, bone marrow and other parts within the body. Lymphoma is categorized into two main types, namely, Hodgkin Lymphoma (HL) and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL). The latter is most common in Thai and international patients, with an incidence rate of four-fifths of all lymphoma patients.
Dr. Chawalit La-Kamme, Hematologist, Yanhee International Hospital revealed that “Lymphoma is not a genetically inherited disease, but it can be found in patients with a history of prolonged exposure to chemicals. Nonetheless, lymphoma is considered a type of cancer where patients have one of the highest chances of a full recovery. Therefore, observing your symptoms for any abnormalities is imperative because the earlier the diagnosis, the higher the chances that the patient will receive a full recovery. Some of the symptoms to look out for when it comes to lymphoma include the formation of abnormal lumps in various parts of the body, such as neck, underarm or groin, as well as additional symptoms, such as high fever, night sweats and weight loss.”
The main risk factors for lymphoma include age, gender and infections, such as bacterial infection called helicobacter pylori, immunodeficiency in HIV patients, autoimmune disease and exposure to chemicals and insecticide. In addition, the incidence rate of lymphoma increases with age, and is often found in elderly men, as opposed to elderly women.
Although lymphoma is most common in men aged 60-70 years, it is still crucial for the public to maintain awareness and monitor symptoms of this disease because lymphoma can affect patients of all ages and genders. Miss Chotima Terdvikran, 35 year-old lymphoma survivor, who discovered an abnormal lump in her chest 5 years ago at the mere age of 30, is a living proof that lymphoma can be found outside of the risk groups. However, with her alertness and observation of abnormalities within the body, she was able to receive an early diagnosis and treatment process, which ultimately allowed her to return to her normal life.
Miss Chotima recalled her experience battling with lymphoma, after she was diagnosed in 2015, “Personally I didn’t have any symptoms of sickness or anything that might signal a serious illness. However, when I discovered an abnormal lump in my body, I immediately went to seek professional medical advice for my own peace of mind. As a result, when I discovered it was lymphoma cancer, I immediately proceeded with my chemotherapy. Since I began treatment in the early stages, I was showing very limited symptoms. However, I was more affected by the intense side effects of chemotherapy, in addition to the long hours spent in treatment. From my personal experience, it took approximately 8 hours for each round of intravenous (IV) chemotherapy, which not only left me emotionally and physically drained, but also consumed a lot of my time.”
The administration of chemotherapy via a subcutaneous (SC) injection is now available for lymphoma cancer patients, with the main objective to increase convenience and reduce treatment time at the hospital. Evidently, when compared to its IV alternative, the SC method can reduce treatment time at the hospital by up to 32 per cent.
“Speaking of treatment, chemotherapy is a standard treatment that can be utilized in conjunction with other treatment methods, including targeted therapy, to show efficacy and desired treatment outcomes, in addition to being accessible to all patients. Furthermore, a subcutaneous injection is another treatment option for lymphoma patients that can help reduce treatment time, especially during this current COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, efficacy and fast treatment time will not only play a crucial role in enhancing the patients’ quality of lives, but also help save valuable time for the medical professionals as well,” Dr. Chawalit added.
“In honor of World Lymphoma Month, and as a cancer survivor, I would like to send warm regards and encouragement to all my fellow lymphoma patients. In addition, I would like to use this platform to amplify the awareness of this disease, so the public would educate themselves on the risks and symptoms and act proactively when it comes to observing abnormalities. These factors are extremely important because lymphoma cancer is a curable disease with a remarkably high chance for a full recovery, should the patient be able to receive early diagnosis and treatment. Lastly, it is important to note that moral support from peers is also a crucial factor in helping patients win the fight against this disease,” Miss Chotima said in a closing statement.
 “Thailand Lymphoma Factsheet,” Globalcan, May 2019.
 “Lymphoma,” Roche MED-NHL, March 2016.
 “Understanding Lymphoma,” November 2018.