World-first study to probe non-Hodgkin lymphoma

image - Lymphoma Vajdic
Date Published :
Friday, November 23, 2012

An epidemic of non-Hodgkin lymphoma has led researchers to embark on a world-first study to uncover the causes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma

The Lymphoma Lifestyle, Environment and Family (LEAF) study is led by Lowy Cancer Research Centre’s Associate Professor Claire Vajdic in collaboration with the Cancer Council Victoria. The researchers are focusing on one lymphoma sub-type – follicular lymphoma, which gets its name from the pattern of follicle cells that appear under the microscope.

The largest study of its kind in Australia, The LEAF study hopes to uncover the reasons behind a dramatic 40 per cent rise in the number of Australians diagnosed with the disease in the past 25 years.

During the study, researchers will try to uncover what’s behind the rise in non-Hodgkin lymphoma cases by collecting saliva, blood and tumour tissue from patients and their siblings and measuring chemical levels. Participants will also be interviewed.

 “It’s a really complex cancer,” says Claire. “We can’t say with any certainty what causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the vast majority of cases and that includes follicular lymphoma.” However, she says such a dramatic variation in the incidence of the cancer is unlikely to primarily be the result of gene mutations. “The marked increase in incidence over time may indicate a changing environmental exposure or an interaction between that environmental factor and our genes,” Vajdic says.

Funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, Claire and her colleagues aim to recruit almost 2,500 participants – people recently diagnosed with follicular lymphoma in NSW and Victoria and either a sibling or partner.

“This cancer affects more men than women and the average age at diagnosis is 60 years. As we’re working with older people there are some who don’t have any living siblings so then we ask if they have a partner,” Vajdic says.

Recruits are being sought for the LEAF study. Anyone living in NSW or Victoria aged between 18 and 74 who was first diagnosed with follicular lymphoma after January 2011 is urged to contact the study team through the website

For the full story visit the UNIKEN website

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