Health

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma death rates fall

Diagnosis
Diagnosis

Death rates for people who develop the cancer Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL) have fallen substantially in the last decade, according to a report.

An average of 660 people annually are diagnosed with the disease which attacks a network of vessels and glands around the body which are part of our immune system.

Death rates for the cancer in Ireland increased considerably from the mid- 1950s to the late 1990s, influenced by more precise diagnostic methods and coding of death certificates.

While fewer than 50 deaths were recorded during the late 1950s and early 1960s, an average of 253 deaths per year has been recorded in the late 2000s.

"However, mortality rates have declined substantially over the last decade and are now equivalent to those in the 1980s."

The chances of being diagnosed with the cancer are slightly higher in men and is their fifth most common cancer.

It is the eighth most common cancer for women, the new report from the National Cancer Registry shows.

Unlike Hodgkin's lymphoma, where approximately half of all patients were under 35 when first diagnosed, fewer than 10pc of non-Hodgkin's sufferers were in this age category.

"The median age at diagnosis was 66 for females and 63 for males," it pointed out following its study covering 2007-2011.

"The number of cases of NHL diagnosed per year in Ireland has increased from 381 in 1994 to 721 in 2011, with incidence rates in both sexes increasing annually, by 1.7pc in women and 1.8pc in men."

The study found there is little evidence that socio-economic status is a risk factor for a diagnosis of the cancer.

In Ireland, incidence was somewhat higher in the least deprived than most deprived, urban areas.

"In rural areas, by contrast, incidence was statistically significantly lower in the least deprived, compared to moderately and most deprived, areas."

Ireland ranks amongst those countries with the highest survival rates. The five-year relative survival in Ireland was close to that found in Germany, Denmark and Norway and was estimated to be 6pc higher than the European average and 11pc higher than England and Wales. Poorest survival was observed in Poland, Croatia and Lithuania.

The most common symptom of the cancer is a painless swelling in a lymph node, usually in the neck, armpit or groin. The cause is unknown.

Risk factors include:

* Having a medical condition that weakens the immune system.

* Taking immunosuppressant medication.

* Previous exposure to high doses of radiation or chemicals, including chemotherapy.

* Being previously exposed to the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes glandular fever.

Irish Independent

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