A lymphoma is a form of blood cancer. Lymphomas are cancerous cells of the lymphatic system in which these cells grow and spread in an uncontrolled way. A significant part of the immune system consists of the lymphatic system, which includes the bone marrow, tonsils, spleen, lymph nodes and the lymphatic vessels. Lymphatic vessels are found all over the body and they collect lymph, a fluid that contains lymphoctyes, or the white blood cells. Lymphatic vessels pass through lymph nodes that store white blood cells and filter out waste products. It is these white blood cells that fight off infection. As many as 70–80% of lymphomas arise in the lymph nodes.
Types of lymphomas
Two broad classifications of lyphomas are into 1) the Hodgkin lymphoma (10%), and 2) non-Hodgkin lymphoma (90%).The presence of abnormal cells, i.e. Hodgkin or Reed Sternberg cells distinguish between these two, with Hodgkin or Reed Sternberg cells occurring only in Hodgkin lymphoma. In contrast, there are over 30 type of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and none of them contain Reed Sternberg cells.
5 factors associated with the risk of developing lymphomas include:
- A weak immune system from other causes such as genetic causes, autoimmune disorders, or HIV/AIDS
- Use of immunosuppressant drugs after undergoing organ transplant surgery
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection in immuno-compromised patients
- A positive family history of someone having lymphoma
- Cigarette smoking
5 symptoms of lymphoma include:
- Enlarged swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, groin or stomach areas
- Fever for no obvious reason
- Weight loss for no obvious reason
- Tiredness and night sweats
- Chest pain, abdominal pain, prolonged cough
How do doctors diagnose lymphomas?
A thorough physical examination is done. Blood samples are studied. Imaging studies such as X-rays, ultrasounds, computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also be done. A biopsy and microscopic examination of an enlarged lymph node (if present), and /or the bone marrow may also be required to confirm the diagnosis.
Lymphoma treatment options
Once a diagnosis of cancer is made, it is normal for all patients to feel overwhelmed, scared, anxious and upset. Therefore, finding supporting people, and getting practical and emotional support along the entire cancer journey till success treatment is very vital. Family, friends, health professionals or special support services can be engaged to provide emotional support and care.
A multidisciplinary team that engages many experts professionals in their domain is usually the best option for cancer are. Your doctor will consider your age, general health, and stage and type of lymphoma to make a proper decision about your best option of treatment. Hodgkin lymphomas are a highly curable type of cancer. Destruction of lymphoma cancer cells can be done using the following modalities of therapy:
- A combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- Targeted biological therapies that involve the use of antibodies
- Stem cell transplant, which maybe in the form of a bone marrow transplant.
Various treatment options with better survival rates for lymphoma has been developed, and now cure is very much possible. Even if not complete cure, treatment will surely ensure you lead a prolonged life of better quality than was possible earlier.