What is Lymphoma?
A type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system is called Lymphoma. The thymus gland, lymph nodes, spleen, and bone marrow is present in the lymphatic system. Lymphoma can spread to different organs if not detected in time. Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are the commonly seen types of lymphomas. They exhibit symptoms like weight loss, extreme fatigue, and enlarged lymph nodes, and so on. If caught in time, they can be successfully treated with medication, chemotherapy, radiation therapy as well as a stem-cell transplant in some cases.
The different types of lymphoma, are Hodgkin Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Both these lymphomas grow at a different rate and also respond to treatment differently. The commonly seen lymphoma symptoms and signs are:
- Persistent fatigue
- Night sweats
- Painless swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, groin or armpits
- Shortness of breath
- Itchy skin
- Unexplained weight loss
While these symptoms might also be a warning or an indication of other illnesses, it is in your best interest to meet a doctor as soon as possible. The lymphoma doctor will prescribe a couple of tests to find the underlying reasons behind your symptoms.
Who is at Risk?
The commonly observed lymphoma risk factors are:
- Age: While some types of lymphoma are more commonly seen in younger adults, other types tend to be diagnosed more often among people over the age of 55.
- Gender: Studies have shown that males are more prone to developing lymphoma compared to females.
- Immune System: People with a weak or suppressed immune system have a higher risk of developing lymphoma.
- Family History: If your close relative had lymphoma, you are likely to develop it sooner or later.
- Infections: According to recent studies, certain infections like Helicobacter pylori infection and Epstein-Barr virus are associated with an increased risk of developing lymphoma.
Lymphoma is caused by the genetic mutation of lymphocytes, white blood cells in your body. The mutation causes these cells to multiply at a very fast pace, thereby resulting in a large number of ineffective and diseased lymphocytes in your lymph nodes. This causes your lymph nodes, liver, and spleen to start swelling. The genetic mutation of lymphocytes is the underlying cause of lymphoma.
Unfortunately, doctors do not know the real reasons for lymphoma or why lymphocytes undergo this genetic mutation. Studies have shown that lymphoma is sometimes caused by being exposed to benzene or chemicals, having a weak immune system, undergone radiation treatment for another type of cancer, and so on.
How is Lymphoma diagnosed?
In order to arrive at a diagnosis, the doctor will first proceed with a physical exam. This involves checking your neck, underarms, and groin for swollen lymph nodes. They will prescribe a lymph node biopsy that will help determine whether lymphoma cells are present or not. A blood test may also be prescribed to check the number of cells in your blood sample. In some cases, the doctor will recommend a bone marrow biopsy as well. This involves removing a sample of your bone marrow to look for lymphoma cells. The results of these tests will help the doctor arrive at a lymphoma diagnosis. A haematologist will chart out a treatment plan based on the result of these results as well.
How is Lymphoma treated?
The lymphoma treatment chosen by your doctor will depend on the type and stage of lymphoma you have. Each treatment path involves destroying as many cancer cells as possible.
- Active surveillance: Some types of lymphoma are slow-growing. If this is true in your case, the doctor will decide to wait and treat it according to the appearance of the symptoms.
- Chemotherapy: This treatment plan uses drugs and medicine for lymphoma to kill the cancer cells. The drugs are administered through a vein or in the form of pills.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy involves using high-powered beams of energy like X-rays and protons that help kill cancer cells.
- Bone marrow transplant: A bone marrow transplant, accompanied by chemotherapy and radiation therapy is another treatment option preferred by a doctor in advanced cases.
In order to find a lymphoma cure that works for you, the doctor needs to be able to diagnose your lymphoma as early as possible. If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is a good idea to book an online video consultation with the top doctor with the help of Cure.fit.
How can Lymphoma be prevented?
Unfortunately, there is no sure shot method of prevention of lymphoma. However, you can reduce your risk factors by improving your immune system. This involves switching to a healthier diet and ensuring that you exercise regularly.