Cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma have more than tripled in the last thirty years according to the latest Cancer Research UK figures published today.
Overall the number of people diagnosed with the disease in Great Britain has risen from over 3,000 in 1975 to more than 10,300 in 2006.
Similar to the rise in cases, the overall rate of people dying from the disease rose until 1999; but it has been falling since 2002 from 6 per 100,000, down to 5.2 per 100,000 in 2007 in the UK.
Experts believe the rise in cases over the past 30 years can be attributed to an ageing population and to an increase in the number of older people developing large B-cell lymphoma – an aggressive form of the disease, but one which can now often be successfully treated.
The fall in death rates can be traced to clinical trials which have led to the introduction of new treatments such as the antibody rituximab, approved for use in UK patients in 2000.
Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, said: “These figures reflect the progress made in the treatment and care of patients with non- Hodgkin lymphoma.
“An ageing population and a rise in the number of older people developing more aggressive forms of lymphoma are the main reasons behind the increase we have seen in the number of cases over the last few decades.
“But thanks to a huge investment in lymphoma clinical trials which have helped develop new treatments – most notably rituximab – the rate of death from the disease is dropping.
“Cancer Research UK continues to fund a number of lymphoma trials and we hope to see yet more improvements in survival in the future.”
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There were 3,294 cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in 1975 compared with 10,312 in 2006 in Great Britain. The corresponding age-standardised incidence rates were 5.5 per 100, 000 population in 1975 and 13.9 per 100,000 in 2006.
There were 1,880 deaths from NHL in 1971; 4,754 deaths from NHL in 2002 and 4,533 in 2007 in the UK. The corresponding age-standardised mortality rates were 3.1 in 1971; 6.0 in 2002 and 5.2 per 100,000 population in 2007.
For more information about non-Hodgkin lymphoma go to www.cancerhelp.org.uk