Lymphoma Network of New Zealand

Lymphoma consultants have joined forces to establish a national network aimed at improving patient care.  In New Zealand, lymphoma patients may be treated by a haematologist, medical oncologist or radiation oncologist, depending on their location, the lymphoma subtype they have and the stage of the disease. As the three groups of specialists rarely meet nationally, knowledge is seldom shared.

Welcome to the Lymphoma Network of New Zealand

The incidence of lymphoma is rising. We are seeing increasing numbers of patients with this disease, approximately 900 patients a year are diagnosed in New Zealand.

We believe that we can achieve a great deal by collaborating and exchanging information. The field of lymphoma has been expanding fast in all aspects: diagnosis, prognosis, management and long term follow up. Lymphoma is more prevalent now worldwide, and we are seeing older patients being treated more aggressively and patients are living longer. For the above reasons, there is a great need for collaboration and support between clinicians, nurses and patients. The New Zealand Lymphoma Network was hence established in 2008, sponsored by Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand.

Our aim is for haematologists, oncologists and radiation oncologists in New Zealand to meet regularly to exchange knowledge, review the literature, discuss and establish national treatment protocols. We aim to work towards establishing a national database for lymphoma patients, collaborate nationally and with other international groups on clinical trials and molecular research, collaborate with patients support groups like Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand and to lobby for the introduction of new management modalities (drugs, investigations) in lymphoma.

Our aim is to improve our lymphoma patients’ care and ultimately develop our own protocols through multidisciplinary prospective trials and retrospective analysis  from our existing data.

The group has identified a range of issues to pursue including:
• National guidelines for the treatment of lymphoma
• Guidelines regarding referral for bone marrow transplantation, radiotherapy and new innovations in imaging like positron emitting tomography (PET) scan
• More support for patients and families
• Lobbying to introduce and fund new targeted therapies
• Greater involvement of New Zealand patients in clinical trials
• Psychosocial effects of lymphoma – ranging from financial troubles to stress, depression and fatigue.

It is envisaged that the network will also share knowledge with international groups as it evolves further.

The management of patients with lymphoma requires a multi disciplinary approach with input from physicians, nurses and organisations like LBC. This will enable issues related to the possible complications of chemo and radiotherapies, including fertility, and secondary cancers to be addressed.

Further aims are to enrol patients in clinical trials. It is through these local, national and international trials, that patients can access new drugs and be closely monitored and to start a national database to preserve information on patients and treatments.

The Lymphoma Network also allows treatment groups to share information, pose questions about difficult cases and offer us the opportunity to support each other.

Samar Issa, FRACP, FRCPA
Consultant Haematologist
Head of Lymphoma Service
Middlemore Hospital