WASHINGTONTwo days after the release of new cancer incidence
and mortality data showing that new cases of lymphoma and lymphoma
deaths have continued to rise, the Lymphoma Research Foundation of
America (LRFA) took its plea for an increase in research funds for
the disease to Capitol Hill.
According to an annual status report on cancer new cases of
non-Hodgkins lymphoma increased at an average annual rate of
0.6% and deaths rose an average of 1.8% annually between 1990 and
1996. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 56,800 new
cases and 25,700 deaths in 1999, making non-Hodgkins lymphoma
the fifth most common cancer in the United States.
Turning that trend around will require more money for research, said
Saul A. Rosenberg, MD, professor of medicine, Stanford University,
and a member of LRFAs Honorary Medical Board.We dont
want to take it away from other cancers, but we certainly need
more, he said at a congressional briefing sponsored by LRFA.
During testimony earlier in the month before the House appropriations
subcommittee in charge of the NIH budget, Dr. Richard Boxer, LRFA
board member and lymphoma survivor, urged increased funding for
lymphoma research at NCI. He also asked Congress to back the
promotion of innovative models to maximize current lymphoma research
and to specify more funding for research into currently incurable
low-grade and aggressive lymphomas. He also urged coordinated
research efforts between the NCI, NIEHS, and CDC to investigate
environmental and other factors implicated as causes of lymphoma.
However, Rep. Rick Lazio (R-NY), chair of the House Cancer Awareness
Working Group, cautioned LRFA representatives about a reluctance in
Congress to dictate increased funding for specific cancers, as
opposed to raising the overall pool of money for cancer research.
Both Dr. Rosenberg and James O. Armitage, MD, chairman of the
Internal Medicine Department, University of Nebraska Medical Center,
and LRFA Honorary Medical Board member, emphasized that lymphoma is
actually a family of related diseases with significantly different
Dr. Armitage commented that although lymphoma incidence and
mortality rates have been rising for the last half century, only
recently have researchers begun to learn a great deal about the
biology of the diseases, including important insights into the lymph
system. And this expanding knowledge has opened opportunities
to improve existing therapies and develop new ones.
Many lives now lost could be saved simply by providing present
state-of-the-art treatments uniformly to all lymphoma patients, he
noted. Correcting the disparities in care among different economic,
ethnic, and racial groups offers an excellent avenue to reverse the
current upward trend in lymphoma deaths.
The increasing knowledge of lymphoma biology is opening up
opportunities to create therapies that target specific elements in
the disease process, Dr. Armitage added. A better understanding of
the roles of such things as agricultural pesticides and certain
viruses and bacteria in lymphoma should usher in prevention measures
to reduce the incidence.
The Lymphoma Research Foundation of America was founded in 1991 by
its president, Ellen Glesby Cohen, a lymphoma patient. It has since
made grants totaling nearly $2.5 million to support 73 lymphoma
research projects at top universities and cancer centers around the
country. LRFA also provides information, education, and support
services for lymphoma patients and their families.