Director of Services, Lymphoma Action
Lymphoma develops when white blood cells, called lymphocytes, grow out of control. Lymphocytes are part of the lymphatic system, which helps to fight infection.
“I hadn’t even heard of lymphoma before.” I have heard this statement many times in my work with Lymphoma Action, supporting people affected by the UK’s fifth most common cancer. When reflecting on their diagnosis, many people tell me how their initial response to being told they had lymphoma was a mixture of shock and confusion in learning that it is a type of blood cancer.
Lymphoma causes and symptoms
There are no known causes of lymphoma, and the symptoms can be quite general — making it tricky to spot. Common symptoms include swollen lymph nodes (commonly felt as lumps in the neck, armpit or groin); unexplained weight loss; drenching night sweats; itching without a rash; fatigue and fevers; difficulty getting over infections.
Lymphoma is a complex condition with over 60 different subtypes.
As these symptoms can also occur in other illnesses, having one or more doesn’t necessarily mean someone has lymphoma. However, it is important to be aware and always contact a GP with any concerns.
The most common type of blood cancer
Lymphoma is a complex condition with over 60 different subtypes. Treatment, therefore, depends on the type of lymphoma they have, its ‘stage’ and the general health of the person affected. Most treatments aim to send the lymphoma into remission.
Every 26 minutes, someone is diagnosed with lymphoma in the UK. It is the most common cancer in teenagers and young adults aged 15 to 24. Yet, 66% of people recently surveyed through the Charity Awareness Monitor did not know that lymphoma is the most common type of blood cancer.
September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month, and we, at Lymphoma Action, aim to raise awareness of the condition through our ‘Let’s talk lymphoma’ campaign. It is hard enough being told that you have cancer, but when it is little-known and difficult to explain to others, it only adds to the challenges of a diagnosis. We hope to open up the conversation about lymphoma and invite everyone to join us in raising awareness so that we can help more people.