Question: How many types of lymphoma have been identified?

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Despite its status as the seventh most common cancer type and the most frequently diagnosed hematologic (blood) cancer in the United States, results of a recent survey show that very few Americans truly understand lymphoma.

According to the results of a national survey commissioned by the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) that examined the public's awareness of lymphoma, there is an astonishing level of disconnect between public perception and reality.

Notably, almost 85 percent of those surveyed reported not knowing that lymphoma represents at least 67 different types of cancer, including 6 subtypes of Hodgkins lymphoma and 61 subtypes of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. They are so heterogenous that virtually all of them require therapeutic approaches that differ from one to the next.

Don't expect this figure to be accurate for very long. It will almost assuredly go up, and up, and up.

SUBTYPE, SUBTYPE, SUBTYPE

As pointed out by the lymphoma expert quoted by the LRF, in lymphoma, subtype is everything, because once subtype is determined, treatment can begin. Unfortunately, determining subtype requires an excisional biopsy and examination by a qualified hematopathologist—and even then, a second opinion is highly recommended. Misdiagnosis is far too common in lymphoma (check out my entry A tale of two T-cells for an example).

Check into the LRF press release at the following link (opens as a PDF file): "When It Comes to a Lymphoma Diagnosis, One Size Does Not Fit All", or go to www.lymphoma.org for more information.

By Ross Bonander

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