Lymphoma – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Lymphoma is a type of cancer that develops in the immune system’s infection-fighting cells, known as lymphocytes. It can form in any part, including the bone marrow, lymph nodes, thymus, spleen, and tonsils. Lymphoma causes lymphocytes to change and grow uncontrollably.
Types of Lymphoma
Lymphoma is a broad term for cancers that affect lymphatic lineage cells. Lymphoma can be classified into over 70 different types, which can be indolent (slow growing) or aggressive (fast growing). But, in general, lymphomas are divided into two categories.
1. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (HL):
Hodgkin lymphoma is also referred to as Hodgkin’s disease. It usually starts in a type of B cell found in the bone marrow. Hodgkin’s disease is one of the most curable types of cancer, especially if detected and treated early. Chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and stem cell transplantation are some of the treatments available for Hodgkin lymphoma. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is further subdivided into four subtypes:
- Nodular sclerosis classic HL
- Lymphocyte-rich classic HL
- Mixed cellularity classic HL
- Lymphocyte-depleted classic HL
2. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL):
The most popular and common type of lymphoma is Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL). It usually appears in older people. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and stem cell transplantation are all options for treating Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is classified into more than 30 types based on the type of lymphocyte involved; among which the most common are:
- B-cell lymphoma
- T-cell lymphoma
- Burkitt’s lymphoma
- Follicular lymphoma
- Mantle cell lymphoma
- Primary mediastinal B cell lymphoma
Pathologists examine the biopsy specimen and use immunohistochemical (IHC) testing to identify these subtypes of lymphoma.
Signs and symptoms of Lymphoma might include:
- Fever, especially at night
- Loss of appetite
- Enlarged tonsils
- Unusual tiredness/energy deficiency
- Unexplained weight loss
- Persistent itching all over the body with no obvious cause or rash.
- Persistent coughing
- General fatigue
Even though the cause of most cancers is unknown, researchers have identified certain conditions or circumstances that can increase your risk, such as when:
- You are infected with or have been infected with viruses such as HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), Kaposi sarcoma human immunodeficiency virus, and Epstein-Barr (mononucleosis).
- You have a family history of Lymphoma.
- Your immune system has been affected or weakened as a result of illness or medical treatments such as having an organ transplant.
- You suffer from an autoimmune disorder, where your immune system attacks your body rather than protecting it.
- You have chronic infections.
If a doctor suspects Lymphoma, they will perform a biopsy, which usually involves extracting cells from an enlarged lymph node. A hematopathologist will assess the cells to determine whether or not lymphoma cells are present. If the hematopathologist discovers lymphoma cells, additional testing can determine how far cancer has spread. These examinations may include
- A chest X-ray
- Blood tests to determine white and red blood cell counts
- An examination of nearby lymph nodes or tissues
- A bone marrow aspiration, in which a small amount of liquid from the bone marrow is extracted and tested
- A test called lumbar puncture or spinal tap, during which a small amount of spinal fluid is removed and tested.
- An ultrasound of the abdomen
CT or MRI scans may also reveal additional tumors or enlarged lymph nodes.
The treatment of lymphoma is determined by the type of lymphoma and the stage at which it has progressed. Following a diagnosis, your medical oncologist develops a treatment plan tailored to your specific condition. The treatment may be of the following types:
- Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy: The main treatment for lymphoma is a combination of these methods. Most hospitals provide advanced radiotherapy devices which precisely destroy or vaporize cancer cells with minimum impact on healthy ones.
- Immunotherapy or Biologic Therapy: Immunology stimulates the patient’s immunity to destroy lymphoma cells. Immunotherapy causes less severe side effects than traditional chemotherapy.
- Targeted therapy: These drugs target cancer cells and destroy them without harming healthy tissues.
- Bone Marrow (stem cell) Transplant: This is used in more difficult cases, like the 3-4 stages, to restore damaged bone marrow with stem cells from the donor or patient. High-dose chemo- and radiotherapies are part of this treatment. Only a doctor can determine whether you need this type of treatment.
Is Lymphoma treatable?
Yes, patients with lymphoma can be treated. The treatment recommended for each case is determined by a variety of factors, including the exact type and stage of the lymphoma. It is determined by whether the cancer is of high or low grade, the size of the affected nodes, your age, your general health, and the parts of the body affected.
Does lymphoma treatment have side effects?
Lymphoma treatment varies depending on the patient’s condition. Furthermore, the majority of treatments have a variety of side effects to which every patient responds differently. Enquire with your doctor about the treatment process, including any potential side effects and how to deal with them.
If you have even the slightest doubt that you may be experiencing Lymphoma symptoms, consult your doctor immediately. To assist you with your lymphoma-related concerns, Apollo Homecare offers a wide range of diagnostic, rehabilitation, and doctor home visit services.