Lymphoma is a type of cancer that begins in infection-fighting cells of the immune system. These cells are called lymphocytes and can develop in the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, bone marrow, and several other parts of the body. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of lymphoma, is the most prevalent one with the majority of people suffering from lymphoma having this type. In most cases, lymphoma arises from uncontrolled lymphocyte growth in white blood cells. As a component of the immune system, lymphocytes aid in the defence against all infections.
Consequently, lymphoma begins in the immune system, and lymphocytes move across the body carrying lymph. The fluid flows through the lymph nodes, which are glands that are dispersed throughout the body. In the lymphatic system, a component of the immune system, lymphoma cancer grows. The B cells and T cells in white blood cells begin to multiply too quickly, outnumbering the healthy cells and impairing the immune system's function. OnlyMyHealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Parveen Jain Senior Consultant & HOD Medical Oncology, Aakash Healthcare, to know about the symptoms, causes, and treatment of lymphoma.
Types of lymphoma
The six main types of lymphoma are:
- Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia
- Cutaneous B-cell lymphoma
- Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma
- Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia
About one quarter of the lymphoma incidence rates reported from Western Europe or North America. Though incidence rates are lower in India, the average age of onset is fifty four, almost a decade earlier than that of western nations. One of the main symptoms of lymphoma is swollen glands or lymph nodes, usually in the neck, armpit, or groin that are not painful. Listed below are the symptoms of lymphoma:
- Painless swelling of lymph nodes
- Night sweats
- Prolonged fatigue
- Itchy skin
- Unexplained drastic weight loss
Causes of lymphoma
The exact cause behind lymphoma is still unknown. However, it is well established that it starts when a disease-fighting white blood cell known as lymphocyte has a genetic mutation. The mutation indicates that the cell will grow rapidly, causing several other diseased lymphocytes to keep multiplying. Moreover, the mutation makes the cells go on living when other normal cells might die. This can lead to too many diseased and ineffective lymphocytes in your lymph nodes and it results in swelling in the lymph nodes, spleen and liver. The risk factors of lymphoma include:
- Impaired immune system
- Certain infections
There are many types of lymphoma and knowing exactly which kind you have is the best way to make an effective treatment plan. Research has proved that giving a biopsy sample to an expert pathologist can help in having a better diagnosis. The standard treatments for lymphoma include chemotherapy, immunotherapy or radiation therapy. The right treatment method of lymphoma for you depends on the type and stage of the cancer, overall health status, and your choice. The main aim of lymphoma treatment is to kill as many cancer cells as possible and bring the patient to a remission stage.