New research seeks to improve survival for myeloma and lymphoma patients

July 25, 2012

Researchers at the University of York are launching a major study of lymphoma and myeloma aimed at promoting earlier diagnosis and improving survival for patients with these cancers, which are among the most common in the UK.

The project, which is funded by Cancer Research UK as part of the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI), will develop an evidence base that could be used to reduce time-to-diagnosis in patients with these types of cancers.

Led by Dr Debra Howell of the and Genetics Unit in the University's Department of , the £300,000 study is prompted by data indicating that survival for many cancers is poorer in the UK than Europe.

Dr Howell says: "The UK Improving Outcomes Guidance for cancer considers that the most important reason for this is likely to be late stage diagnosis; earlier diagnosis may increase the scope for successful treatment and could save thousands of lives.

"There are nearly 15,000 new diagnoses annually of (Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin) and in the UK, and early diagnosis is complicated by the complex nature of these diseases. The symptoms of lymphoma and myeloma can be strikingly similar to those of more common, benign conditions and this poses exacting challenges for both patients and GPs when identifying symptoms that may indicate malignancy. This situation often leads to delayed help-seeking and prevents early hospital referral."

Patients said:

"The doctors were concerned about these swollen glands in my neck which I'd had for a couple of months. I never thought anything about it because they didn't hurt."

"I just thought it was a swollen gland. It could have been an infection of the throat."

"I got the lump taken away and the doctor said I'm sorry to have to say that it's lymphoma. But prior to that I hadn't felt poorly. Nothing. I've had no symptoms. I've not been poorly at all really."

Despite UK Referral Guidance, data from the National Cancer Data Repository (2007) reported that patients with haematological malignancies, including lymphoma and myeloma, were generally more often diagnosed after emergency presentation and less often referred via the Government recommended two-week wait compared to those with other cancers.

The new study will include a cohort of around 1000 patients newly diagnosed with lymphoma or myeloma during 2012.

Its specific objectives are to:

  • interview patients to explore their symptoms before diagnosis, how they reacted to these and from whom they sought help
  • use primary care (GP) and hospital records to examine events between patients seeking help and diagnosis, such as GP appointments and hospital referrals
The evidence generated will inform UK clinical guidance and could be used to develop tools such as computer-based decision programmes to help GPs to identify patients with these cancers. This could help to promote appropriate investigation and referral, reduce time-to- and improve outcomes. Educational resources will also be produced to encourage people with possible symptoms to seek help sooner.

The study is based on the infrastructure of the Haematological Malignancy Research Network (HMRN), which was established in 2004. HMRN is a specialist population-based registry, funded by Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research (LLR), which includes all newly diagnosed with a haematological malignancy within the Yorkshire and Humber and the Yorkshire Coast Cancer Network areas – more than 2,000 new diagnoses from a population of 3.6 million each year.

Dr Howell adds: "As the HMRN area is representative of the UK as a whole in terms of both demography and clinical practice, the results could inform practice around the UK."

Explore further: Study examines number of GP visits before cancer patients are referred to specialists

Related Stories

Study examines number of GP visits before cancer patients are referred to specialists

February 23, 2012
More than three quarters (77%) of cancer patients who first present to their family doctors (GPs) with suspicious symptoms are referred to hospital after only one or two consultations, a new study has found. However, the ...

Bowel, oesophageal and pancreatic cancers show biggest improvement in diagnosis time

November 8, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- New research shows that bowel, oesophageal and pancreatic cancers have seen the greatest improvement in the time it takes from when a patient first visits their GP with symptoms to when they are diagnosed ...

Type 2 diabetes linked to increased blood cancer risk

June 5, 2012
Patients with type 2 diabetes have a 20 percent increased risk of developing blood cancers, such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma, according to a new meta-analysis led by researchers at The Miriam Hospital. The ...

Computer-based tool to improve diagnosis and prognosis for cancer patients

October 31, 2011
A computer-based tool could help GPs to speed up the diagnosis and treatment of patients suffering from two of the most common forms of cancer, potentially saving thousands of lives every year.

Simple online tool to aid GPs in early ovarian cancer diagnosis

January 4, 2012
The lives of hundreds of women could be saved every year, thanks to a simple online calculator that could help GPs identify women most at risk of having ovarian cancer at a much earlier stage.

Recommended for you

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

Novel CRISPR-Cas9 screening enables discovery of new targets to aid cancer immunotherapy

July 19, 2017
A novel screening method developed by a team at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center—using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology to test the function of thousands of tumor genes in mice—has ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.