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What People Don't Know Could Kill Them

News Release

What people don't know could kill them
- Sixth most common cancer amongst least understood

15 September 2004 - The Leukaemia and Blood Foundation (LBF) today launched Worldwide Lymphoma Awareness Day highlighting the need for greater awareness of lymphoma to encourage early diagnosis and give patients the best possible chance of survival. Lymphoma is New Zealand's sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer1 but is currently among the least known or understood cancers.

LBF Executive Director Pru Etcheverry stressed the importance of awareness of a disease which can kill people in as little as six months. "In New Zealand lymphomas are responsible for the deaths of almost as many people as malignant melanoma2 and yet few people have heard of lymphoma or understand it. Early recognition of symptoms gives patients more treatment options and ultimately a good chance of survival.

"In research undertaken recently only 9% of New Zealanders could name lymphoma as a type of cancer and even less considered lymphoma as a possible cause of some common symptoms3. The LBF is committed to improving understanding of lymphoma and ensuring people know support and information is available through our organisation."

Lymphoma can occur in all ages, but is most common in people 50 years and over. Symptoms may include painless swelling in the neck, armpit or groin, night sweats, recurrent fevers, tiredness, unintentional weight loss and generalised itching. The symptoms of lymphoma are non-specific and can mimic less serious disease, but if symptoms persist people should visit their doctor.

Ms Etcheverry says, "Access to reliable and accurate information through the LBF is extremely important for patients. We also provide emotional support through our patient support coordinators for people dealing with their illness and treatment and getting back to a normal life." Cont'd over

Medical Director for the LBF Dr Peter Browett says patients that are worried they may have lymphoma should see their GP. "Most patients are distressed when they find out they have lymphoma and are understandably frightened as they often don't know what it is. In many cases patients don't realise how effective treatment is and how good the outlook can be."

People affected by lymphoma can visit the LBF website www.lymphoma.org.nz for more information. Alternatively phone 0800 15 10 15 for a booklet on lymphoma or to speak with a LBF patient support co-ordinator.

ENDS.

About the Leukaemia & Blood Foundation

The LBF is New Zealand's non-profit health organisation dedicated exclusively to the care and cure of patients and family members affected by lymphoma, leukaemia and myeloma. They provide individualised patient support programmes including educational booklets, support groups, counselling and financial support as well as advocacy for patients and their families. Please call 0800 15 10 15 or visit www.leukaemia.org.nz for more information on the services offered by the LBF.

The LBF is a founding member of the International Lymphoma Coalition established to improve awareness and understanding of lymphoma and to ensure local access to information and support services for patients.

References

1) New Zealand Health Information Service (2004) Cancer: New Registrations and Deaths 2000 - new cancer registrations

2) New Zealand Health Information Service (2004) Cancer: New Registrations (2000) - major causes of cancer deaths

3) Research International: Lymphoma Awareness Research August 2004 - data on file


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