Cancer that occurs in the white blood cells (lymphocytes) is called lymphoma. Lymphocytes help the body fight the infection. The lymphoma occurs when WBC starts to divide out of control. It starts to build up in lymph nodes in the neck, groin area, and armpits. Lymphoma is a very rare and aggressive form of cancer. It mainly affects men. It ranks as the seventh most common cancer in men.
Types of Lymphoma
The most common types of lymphoma are:
- Hodgkin’s lymphoma: It is a common type of lymphoma and involves B and T lymphocytes.
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma: It is characterized by the presence of abnormally large B-lymphocytes, called Reed-Sternberg cells.
Symptoms of Lymphoma
The common signs and symptoms of lymphoma are:
- Cough or breathlessness
- Swollen glands in the armpits, neck, or groin area
- Chest pain
- Extreme tiredness or fatigue
- Skin rashes or itching
- Bleeding or bruising
- Bone pain
- Feeling of fever
- Unexplained weight loss or reduced appetite
- Night sweats
Causes of Lymphoma
There is no exact cause known for lymphoma. It is triggered when there is a genetic mutation in the lymphocytes.
The different factors that increase the risk of lymphoma are:
- Age above 60 years and above
- Being male
- Having a compromised immune system
- Exposure to chemicals and radiation such as fertilizers/pesticides
- Certain bacterial and virus infections like Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis C, Helicobacter pylori
- Certain autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis
- Inactive lifestyle and increased weight
If you have symptoms that indicate lymphoma or have factors that increase the risk of lymphoma, consult a physician immediately.
Diagnosis of Lymphoma
The common tests performed for the diagnosis of lymphoma are:
- Blood Tests: The low level of blood cells, especially white blood cells and platelets, may indicate lymphoma.
- Chest X-ray: The technician uses the X-rays to check for abnormally enlarged lymph nodes.
- Lymph Node Biopsy: A portion or entire lymph node is removed from the suspected area with the help of a needle to look for lymphoma cells and their type.
- Bone Marrow Aspiration: In this, the doctor surgically removes a small amount of liquid from the hipbone to check if the lymphoma has spread to the bone marrow.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging: MRI helps detect the lymphoma that has spread to the brain and spinal cord. It also produces detailed images of the suspected organs and soft tissue.
- Body CT scan: It is used to detect enlarged lymph nodes and abnormalities in the pelvis, chest, abdomen, head, and neck.
- Position Emissions Tomography Scan: A PET scan helps the doctor see if the enlarged lymph nodes contain the lymphoma and if the cancerous cells are present in small areas.
Treatment of Lymphoma
Lymphoma treatment in Nashik is available with a high success rate. The doctor may perform the following tests for the treatment of lymphoma:
Chemotherapy: It is most commonly used to treat lymphoma. It works by poisoning the cancerous cells of lymphoma. It can be given orally, intravenously, or intrathecally (injection in the cerebrospinal fluid). Chemotherapy works by:
- Stopping the lymphoma cells from dividing so they eventually die
- Triggering the death of lymphoma cells.
Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy is usually more effective on lymphoma cells than on most other cancer cells, as lymphoma cells are sensitive to radiation. It is mainly used to treat early-stage lymphoma confined to one part of the body or lymph nodes. It can be given as a:
- Curative radiotherapy to get rid of lymphoma completely
- Palliative radiotherapy to control signs and symptoms in advanced lymphoma.
Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy for lymphoma works by recognizing the unique proteins on the surface of the lymphoma cells. The immunotherapy drugs get attached to the lymphoma cells and enable the immune system to find and kill them. It can be given orally or intravenously.
Bone Marrow Transplant: A high dose of radiation therapy and chemotherapy are given to kill the lymphoma and suppress the bone marrow. The destroyed bone marrow is later replaced with stem cells. The stem cells for bone marrow transplant can be taken from the patient’s body (autologous transplant) or the donor (allogeneic transplant). It is also called a stem-cell transplant.
Targeted Therapy: It works by targeting the abnormalities associated with the lymphoma cells. It attacks the lymphoma cells more precisely than chemotherapy, with fewer side effects and less damage to nearby healthy cells.
Steroidal Therapy: In some cases, steroids may also be injected to treat lymphoma.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can I prevent lymphoma?
There is no exact way to prevent lymphoma, but you can reduce your chances of getting lymphoma by being regularly screened after the age of 50. Maintain a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, quit smoking, control alcohol consumption, and maintain regular hygiene to reduce lymphoma risk.
2. Is lymphoma hereditary?
Lymphoma is not passed down from one generation to another. However, families can be susceptible as some susceptibility genes can be passed and put you at risk of getting lymphoma.
3. What is the survival rate of lymphoma?
The survival rate of lymphoma depends on many factors, such as your age, the stage of lymphoma, the type of lymphoma, and the metastasis of lymphoma. It also depends on the treatment method used and the body’s response to it. The five-year survival rate for NHL is 70%, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma is 90%.
4. What are the common side effects of lymphoma treatment?
The common side effects of treatment of lymphoma are loss of hair, nausea, extreme tiredness, weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting, headache, and sore mouth.
5. Is lymphoma completely curable if detected in the early stage?
Yes, it is curable if detected in the early stage, and cancer is confined at the site and is not spread to other organs. The cute rate is almost 95% if detected early.