Lymphomas are cancers of the immune system, and at least 900 new cases are diagnosed in Ireland every year. The diagnosis of lymphomas is complex because more than 50 sub-types of the disease have been identified, each of which demands a unique approach to treatment, requiring the diagnostic input of a specialist haematopathology laboratory, molecular diagnostics laboratory and radiology department. Treatment pathways are complex and include ‘watchful waiting’, chemotherapy, antibody treatment, radiation and stem cell transplantation. For some lymphomas, therapy is not indicated.
To help to ensure that each patient receives appropriate treatment, all patients with lymphomas are reviewed at a weekly Multi-Disciplinary Meeting (MDM). Over 250 patients are discussed at the MDM annually, including patients from the Midlands Regional Hospital Tullamore, University Hospital Waterford, and University Hospital Limerick.
The accurate and timely treatment of lymphomas is important. They constitute the commonest cancer in young people and are often associated with a high cure rate if an accurate diagnosis is made early on and appropriate treatment is started. Many people with low-grade lymphomas survive with a normal lifestyle for up to 20 years. This suggests that many thousands of patients are under the care of lymphoma specialists in Ireland, making it one of the commonest cancers managed in cancer centres.
Lymphomas affect people of all ages. About 900 new cases are diagnosed annually in Ireland, and thousands of patients survive with their lymphomas, managed by lymphoma specialists. Lymphomas are difficult to diagnose accurately, and over 50 sub-types have been identified, each needing different treatment approaches, from outpatient-based treatment to intensive, complex treatments delivered in the transplant unit at St. James’s Hospital.