Lymphoma is the cancer of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a network of the human body’s disease fighting. Lymphoma includes the body parts like the bone marrow, spleen, lymph nodes and the thymus glands. The enlargement of the lymph nodes is the biggest symptom that occurs in a body attacked by cancer. Cancer which begins in a subset of white blood cells, that are called lymphocytes, is Lymphoma.
What is the Lymphatic System?
The lymphatic system is a network of knots of tissue that is called nodes that are connected by vessels that drain waste products and fluids out of the body. Lymph nodes work as small filters that strain out foreign substances or organisms as well as cells.
The lymphatic system is a system that is responsible for producing important white blood cells that are known as lymphocytes. These lymphocytes protect the human body against various kinds of infections that are caused by fungi, viruses as well as bacteria.
The lymphatic system fights an active infection and in the process of doing so, the lymph nodes get tender and swollen which is the human body’s reaction to active infections.
The cancer Lymphoma is developed in the human body when the lymph nodes or the lymphocytes multiple in an uncontrollable manner and start with the process of producing malignant cells that have the capability to invade various other cells in the human body.
- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Non - Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Non - Hodgkin's Lymphoma are, both, types of Lymphomas. They differ on the basis of the characteristic involved in the specific lymphocyte of each of the type. What is the type of the Lymphoma can be found out by a microscopic test that a doctor will conduct on the lymphoma cancer cells?
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: The presence of an abnormal cell called the Reed - Sternberg cell
Non - Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: If the Reed - Sternberg cell is not present, then the type of Lymphoma is Non - Hodgkin’s
- B-cell lymphoma
- Burkitt lymphoma
- follicular lymphoma
- mantle cell lymphoma
- primary mediastinal B cell lymphoma
- small lymphocytic lymphoma
- Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia which is also known as lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma
- Nodular Sclerosis Hodgkin Lymphoma
Nodular Sclerosis Hodgkin Lymphoma starts in the lymph nodes in your chest or neck and is mostly diagnosed in young adults or adolescents.
- Mixed cellularity Hodgkin lymphoma
Mixed cellularity Hodgkin lymphoma is more likely to be diagnosed in the advanced stage and is mostly found in the human body’s upper part
- Lymphocyte-rich Hodgkin lymphoma
Lymphocyte-rich Hodgkin lymphoma is found in the upper body of the individual and is diagnosed in the early stages. The rate of relapse is low in this type.
- Lymphocyte-depleted Hodgkin lymphoma
The Lymphocyte-depleted Hodgkin lymphoma is most likely to be diagnosed in older adults. It is found in the lymph nodes of the bone marrow, abdomen, liver and spleen.
The following are the signs of having Lymphoma:
- Swollen lymph nodes
The very first symptom that is noticeable in a human body that has the Lymphoma cancer is the swollen lymph nodes. There might be no development of symptoms in the early stages of cancer. A physical examination of the lymph nodes might help find the swelling. Lymph nodes can be found in the following body parts:
- Upper chest
- Pain during alcohol consumption
- An enlarged spleen
- Weight loss that is unexplained
- Pain in the stomach
- Night Sweats
- Pain in the bones
- Difficulties in breathing like shortness of breath
- Itching of the skin
There is no specific cause for an individual to develop the Lymphoma cancer. It is caused when the lymphocyte, that are the white blood cells that fight diseases, develop a genetic mutation. This genetic mutation causes the cells to rapidly multiply causing cancer.
- One might be at a higher risk of developing Lymphoma in the following considerations:
Infections: If an individual has infections like the Epstein - Barr virus or the Helicobacter Pylori infection, they might have a higher chance of developing cancer.
Sex: Lymphoma is known to develop more in males than females.
Immune System: Individuals who have weak immune systems or who have any immune system diseases are known to be at a higher risk of being attacked by cancer. Also, if an individual takes drugs that compromise with the immune system, they might also be at a higher risk of getting Lymphoma.
Age: Lymphoma has many types and certain types are found to be more common in young adults and other types are found to be more common in individuals over the age of 55 years.
- Immune deficiencies that are inherited
- Genetic syndromes like Down syndrome and Klinefelter’s syndrome
- The family history of lymphoma
- Non - random chromosomal translocations as well as molecular rearrangements
- Immunity disorders as well as their treatments like rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and Sjögren's syndrome
- Viruses in the body like the HIV, HTLV-1, SV-40, HHV-8, Epstein Barr virus, hepatitis virus
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Celiac disease; it is a disease that involves the processing of a certain component of gluten
- Viruses present in the body such as the Epstein - Barr Virus
- Siblings of similar sex and identical twins with Hodgkin Lymphoma are at a higher risk of developing the disease as well
- Fewer siblings, single family homes, fewer playmates or early birth order is also related to having a higher risk of developing Hodgkin Lymphoma cancer because of the lack of exposure to bacterial as well as viral infections at an early age in life
Prevention of any type of cancer is not possible but one can reduce the risks of getting Lymphoma. There is no hard and fast way to prevent Non - Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
- Avoid the factors that could lead to HIV. The risk of HIV can be cut down by having protected sex and with the non - usage of illicit drugs.
- Eat healthy and exercise well so that you build a strong immune system that will help you to fight any diseases that might attack your body.
- If you reside in an area where the Human T - Cell Lymphotropic Virus (HTLV - 1 virus) is common, then you should try to prevent it as it has a huge impact on the Non - Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
- The infection - Helicobacter Pylori is linked with the lymphomas in the stomach region. Though this has not been medically proven yet, the treatment of the Helicobacter Pylori might help in reducing the risks of the Lymphoma cancer.
- Certain kind of Lymphomas might be caused by the treatment of various types of cancer. The range of treatments that might cause Lymphoma or increase the risk of getting Lymphoma are chemotherapy, radiation, or the use of drugs that suppress the immune system that is done to avoid the rejection of organs which are transplanted. The benefits of such treatments are usually higher than the risks that might cause Lymphoma and the development process of finding better cancer treatments is going on.
- Obesity has also been linked with developing the Lymphoma cancer in some studies. The intake of a healthy diet along with the help of a nutritionist and maintain a balanced height and weight ratio might not only cut down the risks of the development of the Lymphoma cancer but also many other health ailments and diseases.
A biopsy is carried out on a swollen lymph node that has no pain or infection. The Lymph Node Biopsy is the process of cutting into the Lymph node to perform the removal of the whole lymph node or a tissue sample and then testing it for Lymphoma. If a Non - Hodgkin lymphoma is found, then further tests have to be conducted on the individual’s body to find out the subtype of the Non - Hodgkin lymphoma and the stage of cancer. To find out those, all or a few of the following tests have to be done:
- CT scans - Computed tomography scans of the body parts like the abdomen, chest, neck and the pelvis
- Blood tests
- MRI scans for an epidural lymphoma or a spinallymphoma
- Examining the head and the neck
- Testicular ultrasound
- Biopsy of the bone marrow
- X-ray of the chest
- PET scan - Positron emission tomography scan
- X-ray of the small bowel
- Upper GI series and endoscopy
- Lumbar Puncture or Spinal Tap(this depends on the stage of cancer, the type of cancer as well as the location of the Lymphoma)
Your doctor will perform a physical examination while they ask about your medical history. For a proper diagnosis of the Hodgkin Lymphoma, the following tests are to be done:
- CT scans and X - rays
- Biopsy of the Lymph node
- Blood tests like CBC -complete blood count (CBC). This is done to measure the levels of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets.
- To determine the type of lymphoma cell, a test called Immunophenotyping has to be carried out
- To determine the functioning and the health of the lung, tests like lung function tests have to be carried out
- To determine the functioning of the individual’s heart and its wellness, an Echocardiogram has to be done
- Bone marrow biopsy - A bone marrow biopsy is the process of the removal of the marrow in the bones and then examining it to check if the Lymphoma cancer has spread
- Radiation therapy: For treating Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, radiation therapy is used. Radiation therapy is the use of high - energy beams of radiation that destroy the cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy: For treating Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, chemotherapy is used. It is the process of using medication that can be taken orally or can be injected into the veins. This medication kills the cancer cells.
In some types of the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma-like the NLPHL- Nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin lymphoma, the individual might only require radiation as the spread of the disease is slower. If the type of the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is advanced, therapeutic drugs will also be given to the individual for them to be treated.
In case the individual does not respond to chemotherapy or radiation:
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is the process of the transplantation of stem cell. The stem cell transplant will replace the cancer cells with healthy and uninfected cells in the bone marrow of the individual.
Lymphoma has severe effects on the human body and that is why it has to be treated before it spreads further.
- The symptoms of the Non - Hodgkin’s Lymphoma can become worse when being treated
- The treatment, as well as the Lymphoma cancer, weaken an individual’s immune system that can lead to them developing various infections
- The treatment for Lymphoma-like chemotherapy and radiation can lead to infertility of the individual
- The treatment for Non - Hodgkin's Lymphoma-like chemotherapy and radiation can develop new and a different type of cancer
- The treatment for Non - Hodgkin's Lymphoma can also lead to various diseases like heart
disease, lung disease, kidney disease, thyroid disease, diabetes and cataracts
Other complications include infections like:
- Fever with a high temperature
- Headache and muscle aches
- Tiredness and blistering rashes that are painful
Myth #1: If Lymphoma is diagnosed, it is the end of life
Definitely not! There are various treatments that are available for Hodgkin Lymphoma as well as Non - Hodgkin Lymphoma. Treatments include radiation, medication and chemotherapy. If those do not work, stem cell replacements are also done.
Keeping a close check on your body and performing self - diagnosis to check for any swollen lymph nodes can be a way to find out about Lymphoma if the other symptoms seem aren’t that prevalent.
Disclaimer : Docprime doesn’t endorse or take any guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of information provided under this article and these are the views strictly of the writer. Docprime shall not be held responsible for any aspect of healthcare services administered with the information provided on this article.