“Spot Lymphoma, Stop Lymphoma”
Biopharmaceutical leader Takeda Healthcare Philippines Inc. (“Takeda Philippines”) launches the “Spot Lymphoma, Stop Lymphoma” initiative. This initiative answers the call of the government’s National Integrated Cancer Control Act for medical stakeholders to covarious organizations including the Philippine Cancer Society, Health Futures Inc., Philippine Society of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, Philippine College of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine, Philippine Society of Medical Oncology, Philippine Society of Pathologists, Carewell Community Foundation and Lymphoma Philippines together and work towards a cancer-free Philippines.
Various organizations, including the Philippine Cancer Society, Health Futures Inc., Philippine Society of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, Philippine College of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine, Philippine Society of Medical Oncology, Philippine Society of Pathologists, Carewell Community Foundation and Lymphoma Philippines support the initiative. Of course, on the lead is Takeda Philippines. “Spot Lymphoma, Stop Lymphoma” also aims to improve access to lymphoma treatments in the country by providing free testing to patients. It also partners with relevant organizations and institutions and sponsors seminars and talks to educate the public about the disease.
Meaning of lymphoma
Lymphoma is the most common kind of blood cancer in the world. A Global Cancer Observatory (Globocan) study reports that over 600,000 new lymphoma cases were detected worldwide in 2020. This makes lymphoma the 11th most common cancer in the world. There are over 4,000 new patients diagnosed with lymphoma in the Philippines, making it among the 30 most common cancers in the country. Though this may seem like a small fraction of the population, it still leaves untreated lymphoma deadly for the people who suffer from it. In 2020 alone, nearly 300,000 died of lymphoma, 2,500 of which were recorded in the Philippines.
Pandemic puts lymphoma patients at risk
The pandemic has also put those with lymphoma at risk, as patients with the disease were identified to be more susceptible to COVID-19 according to a study published in the World Journal of Virology. And with the fear of being infected by COVID-19 still looming, it has been more difficult for people experiencing symptoms of the disease to go out and undergo testing for lymphoma.
Lymphoma begins when an infection-fighting white blood cell or lymphocyte mutates, divides, and grows out of control, compromising the immune system and lodging itself onto lymph nodes or “kulani” and causing them to swell. Hodgkin lymphoma is a lymphoma type that involves the presence of a specific type of lymphocyte, Reed-Sternberg cells. Hodgkin lymphoma cases comprise one-fifth of all lymphoma cases globally, making it a rare cancer.
And like any other cancer, detecting the disease in its early stages is essential, as survival rates drop from 90% to 70% in patients with advanced stages of the disease. Even then, relapse is common in advanced stages of the disease, with one-quarter to one-third of patients not achieving long-term remission with standard frontline therapy. However, detecting it is not an easy feat.
Hodgkin lymphoma shares common symptoms with other diseases such as fever, chills, night sweats, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue. As this disease is relatively rare, Hodgkin lymphoma makes it difficult for people to identify it in its early stages. The most telling signs are painless lumps or swelling of lymph nodes or “kulani” in the neck, armpit or groin region. Still, even then, the only way to get properly diagnosed is through biopsy or CD30 testing, which is not accessible to everyone. In addition, due to its rarity, there is a lack of public awareness about Hodgkin lymphoma, with treatment options and relevant information not readily available to patients.
Spot Lymphoma, Stop Lymphoma
As part of this initiative, Takeda Philippines has ongoing partnerships with several organizations to improve access to testing and raise awareness about the disease. One of its recently concluded partnerships is with the Philippine Cancer Society, where Takeda Philippines provided support to patients through free CD30 testing to help detect Hodgkin lymphoma. To date, free testing for over 60 patients all over the country has been provided through this partnership.
Aside from making testing more accessible, Takeda has also partnered with the Philippine College of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine, Philippine Society of Pathology, Philippine Society of Medical Oncology, Philippine Society of Hematology and Blood Transfusion and Health Futures, Inc. for various webinars and talks on Hodgkin lymphoma for medical professionals and patients alike.
Access to innovative medicines
“Rare cancers like lymphoma continue to be a problem due to lack of awareness and information available to the public, which is why patients continue to search for treatment options and support in managing their disease. With the ‘Spot Lymphoma, Stop Lymphoma’ initiative, we hope to reinforce our commitment in providing access to innovative medicines to lymphoma patients and to address gaps in the areas of screening, diagnosis, treatment, and patient support,” said Loreann Villanueva, Country Manager of Takeda Philippines.
Lymphoma Philippines, one of the partner organizations of Takeda Philippines, shared their support for the newly-launched initiative. “We at Lymphoma Philippines try our best to help every patient that needs support in any way we can, whether by providing information, improving access to treatment, or supporting patient advocacy. By joining the ‘Spot Lymphoma, Stop Lymphoma’ initiative, we hope to make the general public more aware of lymphoma, the issues that patients face, and what they can do to help,” said Jheric Delos Angeles, co-founder of Lymphoma Philippines.
Hodgkin lymphoma patients may feel alone as they rarely meet other people with the same disease. Takeda and partners hope to raise public awareness, make information about the condition, and inform the public about treatment options through the “Spot Lymphoma, Stop Lymphoma” campaign.
Know someone experiencing any symptoms associated with Hodgkin lymphoma? Consult with your hematologist or oncologist.
Momi Berlin Directory