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What Is Lymphoma?

Lymphoma Symptoms,
Causes and Treatments
Lymphoma is a type of cancer that begins in immune
system cells called lymphocytes. Like other cancers,
lymphoma occurs when lymphocytes are in a state of
uncontrolled cell growth and multiplication.
Lymphocytes are white blood cells that move
throughout the body in a fluid called lymph. They are
transported by a network of vessels that make up the
lymphatic system, part of the immune system. The
lymphatic system - whose job it is to fight infections or
anything else that threatens the body - is also
comprised of lymph nodes that exist throughout the
body to filter the lymph that flows through them. The
lymph nodes swell and tenderize when a large
number of microbial organisms collect inside of them,
indicating local infection.
There are two primary types of lymphocytes: B cells
and T cells. Both are designed to recognize and
destroy infections and abnormal cells. B cells produce
proteins that travel throughout the body, attaching
themselves to infectious organisms and abnormal
cells and alerting the immune system that the
pathogen needs to be destroyed. T cells actually kill
the pathogens directly and serve a function in
regulating the immune system from over- or underactivity.

000 are diagnosed HL. also called Hodgkin's disease) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Lymphoma development outside of lymphatic tissue is called extranodal disease.000 cases of NHL every year.Interesting articles What is cancer? What causes cancer? What is function of the lymph nodes? Lymphoma occurs when lymphocyte B or T cells transform and begin growing and multiplying uncontrollably. It is the most common type of blood cancer in the US. the cancer can spread or metastasize. In the United States each year. How is lymphoma classified? There are two types of lymphoma: Hodgkin lymphoma (HL. The European Union sees over 50.000 people are diagnosed with NHL and 7. and eventually they form a mass of cells called a tumor. Both HL and NHL can occur in the same places and have similar . Abnormal lymphocytes collect in one or more lymph nodes or in lymph tissues such as the spleen or tonsils. some 54. If abnormal lymphocytes travel from one lymph node to the next or to other organs. Tumors grow and invade the space of surrounding tissues and organs. depriving them of oxygen and nutrients.

The large number of lymphoma subtypes has led to a complicated classification scheme that involves microscopic appearance and well-defined genetic and molecular configurations.symptoms. division. Scientists do not know exactly what causes lymphoma. Programmed cell death is called apoptosis. and death. and when this process breaks down. HL subtypes are microscopically distinct. and its 30 subtypes are distinguished by unique genetic markers. Their differences are visible at a microscopic level. What causes lymphoma? Cancer is ultimately the result of cells that uncontrollably grow and do not die. Normal cells in the body follow an orderly path of growth. Although several NHL subtypes look similar. and classification is based upon the microscopic differences as well as the extent of disease. NHL may derive from either abnormal B or T cells. they function differently and respond differently to therapies. Hodgkin lymphoma develops from a specific abnormal lineage of B cells. but they have identified several potential risk factors. cancer results. Genetics . There are five subtypes of HL.

human T-lymphocytic virus type 1 (HTLV-1). or hepatitis B or C. and HL is most common between ages 16-34 and 55 years and older. Epstein-Barr virus. Similarly. black hair dye has been linked to higher rates of NHL. Helicobacter pylori. Carcinogens Carcinogens are a class of substances that are directly responsible for damaging DNA. herbicides. When our bodies are exposed to carcinogens. autoimmune disease (such as lupus). It is possible to be born with certain genetic mutations or a fault in a gene that makes one statistically more likely to develop cancer later in life. Other medical factors As we age. free radicals are formed that try to steal electrons from other molecules in the body. and the result can be cancerous growths. . Additional medical conditions that have been associated with higher lymphoma rates include infection with HIV. and solvents such as benzene has been associated with lymphoma. there is an increase in the number of possible cancer-causing mutations in our DNA. promoting or aiding cancer. affecting their ability to function normally. The risk of NHL increases as we age.Lymphoma can be the result of a genetic predisposition that is inherited from family members. Exposure to certain pesticides. These free radicals damage cells.

or the stomach. and how big the tumor is. An oncologist (cancer specialist) will usually be consulted to review the results of several tests. and any other immunodeficiency diseases. and itching. Lymphoma symptoms also include nonspecific symptoms such as fever. to tingling and numbness. and liver performance. or groin. respectively. In general. of which high . underarm. Lymphoma usually first presents with swelling in the neck. enlarged lymph nodes can encroach on the space of blood vessels. Additional swelling may occur where other lymph nodes are located such as in the spleen. They can also detect a chemical called lactase hydrogenase (LDH). kidney. night sweats. or to feelings of being full. Blood tests will be used to test blood cell. nerves. chills.diseases that require therapies that suppress the immune system. leading to swollen arms and legs. unexplained weight loss. where it has spread. What are the symptoms of lymphoma? Cancer symptoms are quite varied and depend on where the cancer is located. physicians will request a complete physical exam as well as personal and family medical histories. How is lymphoma diagnosed and staged? In order to diagnose lymphoma. lethargy.

The stage lets oncologists know which choices will be . or laparoscopic methods. The only absolute way to make a cancer diagnosis is to remove a small sample of the tumor and look at it under the microscope in a procedure called a biopsy. doctors analyze the tissue samples and test results to find out how far the cancer has spread and to determine the stage of the cancer. A pathologist examines the sample under a microscope to determine if cancer exists. Common imaging tests include:  X-rays  Computerized tomography (CT) scans  Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)  Lymphangiogram  Gallium scan  Positron emission tomography (PET) scans Physicians may also perform bone marrow examinations to see if the lymphoma has infected the bone marrow. surgical methods. Several imaging techniques are employed in order to see if cancer exists and to find out how far they have spread. Bone marrow samples are often taken from the hip and examined for the presence of abnormal B or T cells.levels have been associated with an aggressive form of NHL. After a diagnosis is made. Doctors may gather the sample by inserting a needle through the skin.

available for treatment and it informs prognoses. better prognosis). They are often curable. HL and NHL use a similar staging system to describe the extent of the disease.  Stage II or locally advanced disease is when two or more lymph node regions on the same side of the diaphragm or one lymph node region and a nearby tissue or organ carries lymphoma. worse prognosis) or nonbulky (small tumor.  Stage III or advanced disease is when two or more lymph nodes or a lymph node and an organ on the opposite side of the body are affected by lymphoma.  Stage I or early disease is when lymphoma is found in a single lymph node region or in a single organ outside the lymph node. and genetic and molecular features. High grade lymphomas are aggressive and rapidly growing. . or indolent. lymphomas grow slowly and often do not require immediate treatment. and are often uncurable. location in the body. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is classified according to its microscopic appearance. Intermediate grade lymphomas are rapidly growing and require immediate treatment. It is frequently divided into three grades. Low grade. require intesive and immediate treatment. A common and simple classification scheme for Hodgkin's lymphoma considers it to be bulky (large tumor.

Lymphoma treatment is usually designed to result in complete remission of the disease . bone marrow. Common lymphoma treatments include chemotherapy. or a refractory disease (the lymphoma resists treatment). disseminated disease is when the lymphoma has spread to the spleen. or central nervous system. The ultimate goal of lymphoma treatment is durable remission. and biological therapy. and additional personal characteristics. age. the stage of the cancer (how much it has spread). . radiation therapy. whether or not one has received previous cancer treatment. If the cancer comes back. How is lymphoma treated? Cancer treatment depends on the type of cancer. a B classification to indiciate such symptoms. Stage IV or widespread. but they are undetectable and cause no symptoms. progression (lymphoma worsens). this is called recurrence. After therapy the patient may see improvement (lymphoma shrinks). or remission that lasts a long time.a state where there may be lymphoma cells in the body. health status. a stable disease (lymphoma is the same size). bone. or an E classification to indicate that the tumor has spread directly from a lymph node to an organ. Both types of lymphoma may also receive an A classification to indicate no symptoms like fever and weight loss.

or maintenance therapy that is treatment meant to prevent recurrence. This causes damage to the molecules that make up the cancer cells and leads them to . Chemotherapy Chemotherapy utilizes chemicals that interfere with the cell division process . but normal cells usually can recover from any chemical-induced damage while cancer cells cannot. fatigue.Patients may also undergo induction therapy that is designed to induce remission. salvage therapy that is designed to take over for a failing treatment.damaging proteins or DNA so that cancer cells will commit suicide. Combination therapies often include multiple types of chemotherapy or chemotherapy combined with other treatment options. However. Radiation Radiation treatment. Chemotherapy is generally used to treat cancer that has spread or metastasized because the medicines travel throughout the entire body. there are still common side effects such as hair loss. destroys cancer by focusing high-energy rays on the cancer cells. and vomiting. Treatment occurs in cycles so the body has time to heal between doses. also known as radiotherapy. These treatments target any rapidly dividing cells (not necessarily just cancer cells). nausea.

Lymphoma video discussion .University of Maryland Medical Center . However. Radiotherapy utilizes high-energy gamma-rays that are emitted from metals such as radium or high-energy x-rays that are created in a special machine. Radiotherapy can be used as a standalone treatment to shrink a tumor or destroy cancer cells. physicians recommend avoiding known risk factors and avoiding viral infections or conditions that suppress the immune system.commit suicide. How can lymphoma be prevented? There are no known ways to prevent lymphoma. diarrhea. and fatigue. vomiting. nausea. but most side effects subside a few weeks after completing treatment. Patients also tend to lose their appetites and have trouble maintaining weight. Side effects of radiation therapy may include mild skin changes resembling sunburn or suntan. and it is also used in combination with other cancer treatments.