Blood Cancer Awareness Month {September}

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Due in large part to the Lymphoma Research Foundation’s (LRF) Advocacy Program, September was designated as National Blood Cancer Awareness Month in 2010 by the United States Congress. Since then, LRF has been a leader in raising public awareness about lymphoma and Blood Cancer Awareness Month, not only during the month of September but throughout the year.
 

 

Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that occurs when lymphocytes–white blood cells that help protect the body from infection and disease–begin behaving abnormally. Abnormal lymphocytes may divide faster than normal cells or they may live longer than they are supposed to.
Lymphoma may develop in many parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow, blood or other organs.

There are two main types of lymphomas:

CELL SURFACEAn image shows rituximab binding to a cell-surface. In particular, the targeted drug Rituxan, in combination with chemotherapy, has helped younger patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which occurs in roughly 20 of 100,000 people, researchers found. The improved treatments for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma helped patients live longer.(File Photo)

Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) (formerly referred to as Hodgkin’s lymphoma) – There are six types of HL, an uncommon form of lymphoma that involves the Reed-Sternberg cells. Reed–Sternberg cells (also known as lacunar histiocytes for certain types) are different giant cells found with light microscopy in biopsies from individuals with Hodgkin’s lymphoma (aka Hodgkin’s disease; a type of lymphoma). They are usually derived from B lymphocytes, classically considered crippled germinal center B cells, meaning they have not undergone hypermutation to express their antibody. Seen against a sea of B cells, they give the tissue a moth-eaten appearance.

Reed-Sternberg_lymphocyte_nci-vol-7172-300They are named after Dorothy Reed Mendenhall and Carl Sternberg, who provided the first definitive microscopic descriptions of Hodgkin’s disease.

Reed–Sternberg cells are large and are either multinucleated or have a bilobed nucleus (thus resembling an “owl’s eye” appearance) with prominent eosinophilic inclusion-like nucleoli. Reed–Sternberg cells are CD30 and CD15 positive, usually negative for CD20 and CD45. The presence of these cells is necessary in the diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma – the absence of Reed–Sternberg cells has very high negative predictive value. They can also be found in reactive lymphadenopathy (such as infectious mononucleosis, carbamazepine associated lymphadenopathy) and very often in other types of non-Hodgkin lymphomas.

A special type of Reed–Sternberg cells is the lacunar histiocyte, whose cytoplasm retracts when fixed in formalin, so the nuclei give the appearance of cells that lie with empty spaces (called lacunae) between them.

These are characteristic of the nodular sclerosis subtype of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) (formerly referred to as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) – There are more than 61 types of NHL, some of which are more common than others. Any lymphoma that does not involve Reed-Sternberg cells is classified as non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Signs and Symptoms
Certain symptoms are not specific to lymphoma and are, in fact, similar to those of many other illnesses. People often first go to the doctor because they think they have a cold, the flu or some other respiratory infection that does not go away.

Common symptoms include:
• Swelling of lymph nodes, which may or may not be painless
• Fever
• Unexplained weight loss
• Sweating (often at night)
• Chills
• Lack of energy
• Itching

LYMPHOMA NODESMost people who have these non-specific symptoms will not have lymphoma. However, it is important that anyone with persistent symptoms be examined by a doctor to make sure lymphoma is not present.

Lymphoma Treatment
Some form of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of the two is typically used to treat Hodgkin lymphoma. Bone marrow or stem cell transplantation may also sometimes be done under special circumstances. Most patients with Hodgkin lymphoma live long and healthy lives following successful treatment.

LYMPHOMA SYSTEMMany people treated for non-Hodgkin lymphoma will receive some form of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, biologic therapy, or a combination of these. Bone marrow or stem cell transplantation may sometimes be used. Surgery may be used under special circumstances, but primarily to obtain a biopsy for diagnostic purposes.

Although “indolent” forms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma are not currently curable, the prognosis is still very good. Patients may live for 20 years or more following an initial diagnosis. In certain patients with an indolent form of the disease, treatment may not be necessary until there are signs of progression. Response to treatment can also change over time. Treatment that worked initially may be ineffective the next time, making it necessary to always keep abreast of the latest information on new or experimental treatment options.

Approximately 30 to 60 percent of patients with an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma can be cured.

Light it Red for Lymphoma

Throughout the month of September, LRF hosts a variety of national and local events. Buildings and iconic landmarks around the country Light it Red for Lymphoma to not only raise awareness of the disease, but to help provide hope to all those touched by lymphoma.

Social Media

In honor of Blood Cancer Awareness Month, the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) also conducts social media campaigns to increase awareness about this nationally recognized month, lymphoma and LRF. Fans and followers of the Foundation’s national Facebook and Twitter learn daily facts about lymphoma, read uplifting stories from lymphoma survivors and their caregivers, and have the opportunity to share, mention and comment LRF on their social media platforms.

Local Proclamations

Local proclamations help to raise community awareness about lymphoma and its prevalence. Prince William County and Manassas, VA have both proclaimed September as Blood Cancer Awareness Month and September 15 as World Lymphoma Awareness Day in their counties.

Media Inquiries

All media inquiries for USA related to Blood Cancer Awareness Month should be directed to Peggy Ann Torney, Associate Director of Public Affairs, at either (646) 465-9109 or ptorney@lymphoma.org.

Leukemia & Lymphoma U.K.

Hodgkin Lymphoma | The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada

International Prognostic Index for Agressive Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

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