Spotted a painless lump? See your doctor

Spotted a painless lump? See your doctor

Lymphoma refers to cancers of the lymphatic system, and its symptoms may be similar to those of viral illnesses.


Sandhya D'Mello

Published: Sun 15 Sep 2019, 11:18 PM

Last updated: Mon 16 Sep 2019, 9:10 AM

Today on World Lymphoma Awareness Day, health experts in the UAE are calling on everyone to pay attention to their bodies and get simple viral illnesses checked - because, sometimes, a cancer like lymphoma may manifest as a bad case of fever and fatigue.
Lymphoma refers to cancers of the lymphatic system, and its symptoms may be similar to those of viral illnesses. It's just that in the case of lymphoma, such signs usually persist for longer periods, stretching to weeks rather than days.
Patients may notice swollen lymph nodes that are usually painless, accompanied by fever, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, night sweats or chills. Lymphoma symptoms sometimes overlap with those of other illnesses, which may lead to a wrong diagnosis.
Dr Arun Warrier, an oncology consultant at Aster Hospital Mankhool, said: "When a person presents with lymph node swelling, the most important aspect is to differentiate infections (particularly tuberculosis) from lymphomas.
"The pattern of involvement and consistency of nodes may give a clue about the reason."
Several blood tests like CBC, LDH, ESR and uric acid are essential, and a lymph node biopsy also helps confirm the diagnosis.
Testing for lymphoma as early as possible is crucial since early diagnosis can significantly boost a patient's treatment outcomes, doctors said.
"Early diagnosis, risk-adapted multimodality treatment and proper follow-up are key to ensuring that every lymphoma patient is cured of the disease," said Dr Warrier.
Lymphoma in the UAE
There are two types of lymphomas: Hodgkin's lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL).
Hodgkin's lymphoma is more common in young people, while NHL is a predominantly a disease of the elderly.
NHL is the ninth most common cancer in the UAE. And both types of lymphomas comprise almost six per cent of all cancer cases in the country.
Dr Faraz Khan, consultant oncologist and haematologist, American Hospital Dubai, said:
"In the UAE, there are 4,500 new cases of cancer reported each year, with cancer being the third leading cause of death. But within the national agenda, authorities are targetting to bring down cancer fatalities by 18 per cent by 2021."
Necessary health exams and treatments are all available in the country.
Dr Tarek Alkhouri, medical oncology specialist at the Zulekha Hospital, said: "In the UAE, all tests needed to diagnose the disease are available, allowing for the full evaluation of every patient with lymphoma. Almost all modalities of treatment and new generations of medications can be accessed here."
Residents fighting the disease also get support from several non-profit charities and groups.
There are also campaigns that promote research, education and advocacy.
Through these drives, patients are provided with one-to-one support that help them go about their lives as normally as possible.

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