Malignant lymphoma, a type of cancer, is occurring with alarming frequency in Vietnam and the numbers are rising every year, says Nguyen Anh Tri, Director of the National Institute of Haematology and Central Blood Transfusion.

About 2,700 new cases of lymphoma in people of all ages are detected in Vietnam each year, but it occurs most commonly in middle age.

Over the last 10 years, Vietnam has made significant progress in diagnosing and treating cancers, malignant lymphoma in particular, but it was strapped by a shortage of qualified oncologists across the country, Tri said at a recent ceremony to launch a project in Hanoi.

The project seeks to strengthen diagnosis and treatment of the disease in Vietnam. It is a cooperative venture between leading prestigious lymphoma treatment centres in Vietnam including the National Institute of Haematology, Central Blood Transfusion Institute, HCM City Oncology Hospital, and Cho Ray Hospital.

The 413,000 USD project is being funded by the Hoffmann-La Roche representative office in Vietnam.

The strong links between the leading medical units in haematology will form a professional foundation for training in lymphoma diagnosis and treatment, and promote the exchange of skills and experience between the key centres and lower-level hospitals.

The project expects to achieve a high standard of understanding and a full integration of international standards in lymphoma management.

The three-year project will provide intensive training courses at international centres for Vietnamese professionals, including oncologists specialising in doctors in lymphoma.

In 2015 and 2016, the project will organise training courses at high-level hospitals at home and abroad, establish more laboratories, and promote international co-operation in research.

Experts said at the launching ceremony that Vietnam needs more highly qualified doctors in all provinces and cities to meet the increasing demand for lymphoma treatment.

Lymphoma is a form of cancer that affects the immune system. Specifically, it is a cancer of immune cells called lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. There are two broad types of lymphoma and many subtypes.

The two main types of lymphoma are Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Both children and adults can get Hodgkin lymphoma. The risk may be higher in early or late adulthood and the disease occurs at a slightly higher rate in males.-VNA