The lymphatic system represents a network of lymph nodes and veins that deliver lymph fluid throughout the body. Lymph fluids carry white blood cells that combat infections. To prevent the disease from spreading, lymphoma nodes act as filters, capturing and destroying bacteria and viruses. While the lymph system usually defends your body, lymphocytes, which are lymph cells, can become malignant.
Many types of Lymphoma exist. The main subtypes are:
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (formerly called Hodgkin’s Disease)
What lymphoma treatment is best for you is determined by the type and severity of your Lymphoma. Chemotherapy, immunotherapy medicines, radiation therapy, a bone marrow transplant, or a combination of these treatments may be used to treat Lymphoma.
Lymphoma is a general term for malignancy of the lymphatic system. Lymphoma is classified into two types: Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and non-Lymphoma. Hodgkin’s
Researchers have divided over 70 different kinds of Lymphoma into these two categories. Lymphoma cancer can affect any part of the lymphatic system, including the following:
- Lymph Nodes
- Bone Marrow
It is the most common type of blood cancer, with over 100,000 new cases identified yearly. It forms when white blood cells called B-lymphocytes (B-cells) or T-lymphocytes (T-cells) proliferate and multiply uncontrollably in the bone marrow or the lymphatic system.
In its early stages, Lymphoma may not always create symptoms. Instead, a clinician may discover swollen lymph nodes via a physical examination. Under the skin, these may feel like little, soft nodules. A person may feel lymph nodes in the following areas:
- upper chest
Similarly, many early lymphoma symptoms are nonspecific. As a result, they are often overlooked. Hereunder are some of the most common Lymphoma symptoms.
- itchy rash
- skin itching
- night sweats
- stomach pain
- loss of appetite
- enlarged spleen
- shortness of breath
- unexplained weight loss
Because lymphoma signs are frequently neglected, it cannot be easy to detect and diagnose it at an early stage. It’s critical to understand how symptoms may alter as cancer progresses.
What are the Types of Lymphoma?
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and non-lymphoma, Hodgkin’s or NHL, are the two most common kinds of Lymphoma. Dr. Thomas Hodgkin, a pathologist in the 1800s, identified the cells in what is now known as Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Reed-Sternberg (RS) cells are giant malignant cells found in people with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. These cells do not exist in NHL patients.
1. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Hodgkin’s lymphomas typically start in RS cells. While the leading cause of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma isn’t known, certain risk factors can increase your risk of developing this type of cancer. Hodgkin’s lymphoma types include:
2. Lymphocyte-Depleted Hodgkin’s Disease
This rare, aggressive kind of Lymphoma affects about 1% of lymphoma cases and is most typically diagnosed in people in their 30s. Doctors will detect normal lymphocytes with abundant RS cells in diagnostic tests. Patients with a weak immune system, such as HIV, are more susceptible to developing this kind of Lymphoma.
3. Lymphocyte-Rich Hodgkin’s Disease
This kind of Lymphoma is more frequent in men, accounting for around 5% of all occurrences of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Lymphocyte-rich Hodgkin’s disease is often recognized early, and diagnostic tests detect lymphocytes and RS cells.
4. Mixed Cellularity Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Mixed cellularity, like lymphocyte-rich Hodgkin’s disease, Lymphocytes and RS cells are present in Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It’s more common — nearly a quarter of all Hodgkin’s lymphoma cases are of this type — and more common in older adult men.
5. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
NHL is more frequent than Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, accounting for 4% of all malignancies, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).
Many lymphoma kinds fall within each of these categories. Doctors classify NHL kinds based on the cells they damage and whether the cells grow quickly or slowly. NHL can develop in either B or T cells of the immune system. Most NHL forms, according to the ACS, affect B cells. Types include:
6. B-cell Lymphoma
The most aggressive kind of NHL is diffuse large B-cell Lymphoma (DLBCL). This rapidly expanding Lymphoma is caused by aberrant B cells in the blood. It is curable if treated, but if left untreated, it can be fatal. The stage of DLBCL influences your prognosis.
7. T-cell Lymphoma
T-cell Lymphoma is less prevalent than B-cell lymphoma, accounting for only 15% of all NHL cases. There are several forms of T-cell Lymphoma.
8. Burkitt’s Lymphoma
Burkitt’s Lymphoma is an uncommon form of NHL that is aggressive and more common in persons with weakened immune systems. This kind of Lymphoma is more frequent among children in Sub-Saharan Africa but can occur everywhere.
Lymphoma begins to develop when white blood cells called lymphocytes proliferate uncontrollably. A lymphocyte cell’s usual life period is brief, and the cell then dies. However, in persons with Lymphoma, DNA mutations inside lymphocyte cells drive them to thrive and spread rather than die.
It is unknown what causes this DNA change, and while there are several risk factors associated with Lymphoma, people who do not have these risk factors can still acquire these tumours
If a doctor suspects Lymphoma, they will usually do a biopsy. This entails extracting cells from an enlarged lymph node. A hematopathologist will study the cells to see if lymphoma cells are present and what type of cell they are.
If the hematopathologist finds lymphoma cells, additional testing can determine how far the malignancy has spread. These examinations may involve:
- A chest X-ray
- An abdominal ultrasound
- Testing nearby lymph nodes or tissues
- Lymphoma blood tests to check on white and red blood cell count
- A lumbar puncture (spinal tap), where a small amount of fluid from the spine is removed and tested
- A bone marrow aspiration, where a small amount of liquid is taken from bone marrow and tested
CT or MRI scans, for example, may detect new cancers or enlarged lymph nodes. There are numerous forms of Lymphoma, and identifying which one you have is critical to devising an effective treatment plan. According to research, examining a biopsy sample by an expert pathologist increases the likelihood of an accurate diagnosis. Consider seeking the advice of a specialist who can confirm your diagnosis.
The kind of lymphoma stages, overall health, and preferences all influence which lymphoma therapies are best for you. The goal of treatment is to terminate as many cancer cells as possible to put the disease into remission.
Treatment plans are determined by some factors, including the individual’s age and overall health, the type of Lymphoma, and the stage of the malignancy.
Doctors stage a tumor to indicate how far the malignant cells have spread. Cancer in stage 1 is limited to a few lymph nodes, but a tumor in stage 4 has spread to other organs such as the lungs or bone marrow.
Lymphoma treatments include:
- Active Surveillance
- Radiation Therapy
- Bone Marrow Transplant
Medications targeting specific abnormalities in your cancer cells are also used to treat Lymphoma. Immunotherapy medications work by stimulating your immune system to fight cancer cells. Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy is a specialist treatment that takes your body’s germ-fighting T cells, designs them to fight cancer, and then reinfuses them into your body.