A recent study has found that people who tend to persistently have swollen neck glands may be at a higher risk for lymphoma. These patients should then be referred to oncologists for further investigation.
Willie Hamilton from University of Exeter Medical School in Britain said, “Our research has revealed the importance of persistent swollen lymph glands, particularly in the neck, as part of cancer”.
“Of course swollen glands are common with throat infections, but in cancer, they are usually larger and painless. It has been known for a long time that this could represent cancer - this study shows that the risk is higher than previously thought”, he added.
A team of researchers, who were led by the University of Exeter Medical School said that referrals for special investigation may prevent many deaths per year because of lymphoma, as the disease can be diagnosed as well as treated well in time.
The research team also comprised scientists from Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Bangor in two associated studies.
Both these studies saw the participation of patients over the age of 40 years. The first study was a large-scale evaluation of symptoms that implied non-Hodgin Lymphoma. Data from 4, 799 cases was looked at with more than 19, 000 controls.
The second study assessed 283 patients over the age of 40 years with Hodgkin Lymphoma and compared them with 1, 237 control cases. Findings of both the studies were seen to be surprisingly similar suggesting that frequent occurrence of swollen lymph glands is a potent lymphoma indicator.
The lead author of the study Dr. Liz Shephard, of University of Exeter Medical School, said that early diagnosis is vital in reducing deaths caused by cancer. It is now hoped that the research will feed into different guidelines to help GPs to refer earlier as well as to potentially save lives.
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