Whenever you get sick, what’s the first thing that you do? Know what you have. Either it’s a simple fever or a complicated illness, the very first thing that you do is to gather information to find out your current condition. The same thing with lymphoma, whether you research things on your own or go to a doctor (although this should always be the case since self-diagnosis can bring you only so far) for advice, your target is to get all you need to know about the disease.
Lymphoma is basically a cancer of the lymphatic system. The system is composed of various nodes or glands situated in different places of our body. These glands are connected by vessels that carry the lymph fluid or the white blood cells which help fight diseases. As you might have remembered in your high school biology class, the white blood cells help fight the bacteria and diseases that enter our body. And because these glands are connected to each other, once lymphoma hits a gland, there’s a good chance that the cancer cells spread throughout the body via the lymph vessels. You should know this fact out front: no cure has been discovered yet that would eliminate the disease. Nonetheless, there are new techniques, medicines, and medical procedures that have brought more positive treatments for people with lymphoma.
There are two kinds of lymphoma, namely Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). The first one, the Hodgkin’s disease owes its name to Thomas Hodgkin (1798-1866). He was the first one who published a paper about the disease. This kind of lymphoma is capable of spreading from one lymph node to another. It is also observed that people diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma have the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells which can only be detected by the aid of a microscope.
The other kind of lymphoma is the non-Hodgkin kind. This kind is described as having larger than normal lymph nodes and is accompanied by fever and weight loss. There are about 16 sub-types that do not fall under the conditions described by Hodgkin’s lymphoma. These sub-types are grouped according to aggressiveness which basically means the cancer cells are fast-growing. NHL lymphomas include chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL), Burkitt lymphoma, mantle cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, and immunoblastic large cell lymphoma.
Treatment is either radiation therapy or chemotherapy. The age, sex, and stage of the cancer’s development play a role in determining the kind of treatment patients will undergo. Early detection is crucial. Most of the patients do survive the treatment especially if they have been diagnosed during the early stages of the lymphoma.
Some of the more common symptoms of lymphomas include painless swelling in the lymph nodes of the neck, underarm, or groin. People with lymphomas also might experience fever, tiredness, weight loss, itchiness, red patches on the skin, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes abdominal pain.
Those with low-grade lymphomas will encounter a very slow growth of the cancer cells and will experience very few of the symptoms. The problem with low-grade lymphomas is that even though they respond well to chemotherapy, they oftentimes return and are considered incurable, unlike high-grade lymphomas. With the latter, treatment involves chemotherapy, with or without radiation therapy.
Admittedly, the information above is not all that you need to know about lymphoma. There are more facts that you need to find out for yourself especially if you have been diagnosed with having lymphoma.