Detecting and treating lymphoma cancer in its early stages will help prevent the disease from spreading to other organs and damaging them.
One of the most important systems in the human body is the lymphatic system, which is a part of the immune system. The immune system produces cells called lymphocytes, or white blood cells, which act as the body’s defense mechanism and protect the body from various diseases. These lymph cells can be found in the blood and lymph nodes and are transported to all parts of the body through the lymphatic system.
Sometimes, the cells in the lymph behave in an abnormal manner and multiply randomly. This random and abnormal growth of the lymphocytes leads to cancer of the lymphatic system. These cancerous cells attack the lymph nodes where the begin to multiply at an abnormal pace. This leads to the enlargement of the lymph nodes due to the formation of painless tumors. Lymphoma cancer can be detected in the armpits, groin, and the neck.
There are four lymphoma stages, according to the severity of the progression of the disease. During the first stage, the cancer occurs in one part of the lymph nodes. It can also occur in any other organ apart from the organs of the lymphatic system. In the second stage, lymphoma slowly progresses to other groups of the lymph nodes on the same side of the diaphragm, below the lungs.
The cancerous cells multiply and spread to the other organs on both sides of the diaphragm in the third stage. The disease may also spread to the spleen. In the fourth and final stage, the cancer progresses to the bone marrow and liver, and affects their normal functioning. In this stage, the lymphoma also spreads to all the other organs of the body, since the lymph nodes in these organs tend to become infected.
According to health experts, there are approximately 30 types of this cancer, with some of them being rare and others common. Though lymphatic system cancer is a group of several cancers related to this condition, there are two main types of this disorder, namely Hodgkin’s disease and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The symptoms of both these conditions are more or less the same, however, their effect varies according to the individual.
Hodgkin’s disease, also known as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, has its origin in the white blood cells from where it spreads to other group of lymph nodes. This disease can occur in individuals aged 15 to 35 years, and in people who are above 55 years of age. The symptoms of lymphoma in this condition include loss of appetite, breathlessness, nausea, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue. This rare type of lymphoma mostly affects men rather than women.
The other type of lymphoma is Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that originates in the lymphatic system and destroys the immunity of the body. The tumors in this condition develop in the white blood cells (or the lymphocytes). This condition is mostly seen in children who are below 10 years of age. Some of the lymphoma symptoms in children include fever, night sweats, poor resistance to infections, and an itching sensation all over the body. Some children also complain of abdominal pain and respiratory problems, like wheezing, breathlessness, etc.
The exact cause of this type of cancer is still unknown. However, it is believed that some factors, like viral infections, exposure to harmful or carcinogenic chemicals, and a family history of lymphoma may lead to this life-threatening disease. Before administering treatment, the doctor will assess the age of the patient, the overall health condition, and the type of lymphoma. Other factors that are considered for the treatment are the location of the tumors, the affected lymph nodes, and other organs.
The patient may have to undergo radiation therapy or radiotherapy, which involves the use of high energy radiation to shrink the tumor, and chemotherapy, that uses certain chemicals and highly effective medicines to completely destroy cancerous cells. In some cases, the doctor may also recommend immunotherapy, where certain medications are prescribed that strengthen the immune system to fight against infections.
There is no specific survival rate as it depends on the overall health condition of the individual, the type and severity of the cancer, and the stage at which it is diagnosed.