A drastic rise of 15 per cent in lymphoma cases over the past decade in Hong Kong has alarmed doctors as they report seeing more young patients. Some of the youngest were under the age of 10, said the Hong Kong Blood Cancer Foundation's vice-chairman Professor Raymond Liang Hin-suen. The cancer in the lymphatic cells of the immune system ranks ninth among the most common cancers in Hong Kong, with more than 700 cases reported this year - up from 600 10 years ago. 'In recent years, we saw more and more young people having lymphoma, with most of them only around 20 to 30 years old. But this cancer can actually happen at any age,' Liang said. Lymphoma occurs when lymphocytes are in a state of uncontrolled cell growth and multiplication. The abnormal cells may spread to other lymph nodes, blood and even other organs. The median age of lymphoma patients in Hong Kong is 50, while that for other cancers is over 60 on average. Among the young patients is a 22-year-old Chinese University student who was diagnosed with lymphoma when she was 20 in 2009. She had been coughing constantly for about three months but saw no other obvious symptoms. Even after she was admitted to hospital given a chest X-ray and other tests, no clear diagnosis could be made. 'As symptoms are not obvious and not alarming, most patients might miss the chance of early treatment,' Liang said. Symptoms of lymphoma include coughing, shortness of breath, weight loss, sweating and persistent itching. Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, under the arm and in the groin can be spotted in most cases. The student received several cycles of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and has mostly recovered. More than half of the patients could fully recover after receiving proper treatment, Liang said. A total of 296 deaths were reported from 672 lymphoma patients in 2008, according to the Hospital Authority's Hong Kong Cancer Registry. Hong Kong Blood Cancer Foundation chairman Linda Kuk Mei-lai said: 'Compared to other common cancers such as lung cancer and colorectal cancer, the public is not that familiar with lymphoma. 'But early detection and treatment can significantly help to cure the disease.' The cancer is mainly divided into two main types: Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Liang said more than 90 per cent of Hong Kong lymphoma patients had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. To enhance the understanding and awareness of lymphoma, the foundation has launched the first iPhone and iPad apps in the city dedicated to the form of cancer.