Lymphoma: a Silent Cancer that can be Treated if Detected in Time

· November 4, 2017
Lymphoma is a type of cancer that develops in the white cells of the lymphatic system. Learn about the importance of detecting lymphoma early.

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that develops in the white cells of the lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s defense mechanisms.

The lymphatic system is a complex structure composed of small channels, nodes, bone marrow and organs. All of them are made up of lymphocytes.

Patients with this disease cannot control the activity of lymphocytes. Thus, they begin to grow in an abnormal and disproportionate way.

It mainly manifests itself in the form of tumor mass near the lymph nodes, such as the armpits, neck and abdomen.

 

Although, as with all cancers, its development is complex and aggressive, early detection is the main key for successful treatment.

Since many people know very little about this disease, we want to share what the symptoms are and what you need to know for detecting lymphoma.

Main types of lymphoma

cancer cells

According to data from the US National Institute of Cancer, there are two basic categories of lymphoma: Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (HL) and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL).

They divide each of these into several sub-types, although Hodgkin’s is less common than Non-Hodgkin’s.

Their behavior, spread, and treatment varies from person to person depending on your lymphatic and immune system.

The first, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, includes the presence of cells called Reed-Sternberg cells. These cause the main symptom: inflammation of the lymph node.

The other, non-Hodgkin’s type, includes a large and diverse group of cancer of the cells of the immune system. This makes it more aggressive and difficult to treat.

This cancer can spread with ease and cause the gradual appearance of cancer in other organs.

Unfortunately, 75% of lymphomas are Non-Hodgkin’s. Although there are several factors that mark its development, experts have not been able to determine exactly what causes this variety.

Detecting lymphoma: What are the main symptoms of lymphoma?

tumor

Although the symptoms of lymphoma may vary in each patient according to the type and severity, symptoms generally incluce:

  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin.
  • Sudden appearance of lumps.
  • Excessive and unexplained weight loss.
  • Continuous fevers.
  • Excessive night sweating.
  • High temperatures.
  • Chronic fatigue and weakness.
  • Decrease or loss of appetite.
  • Coughing and breathing difficulties.
  • Pain in the abdomen, chest and bones.
  • Swelling of the abdomen.
  • Constantly feeling full.
  • Chills.

Naturally, it is important to keep these in mind for detecting lymphoma.

What are the risk factors for lymphoma?

First of all, the aggressive lymphoma sub-type is the most common. However, it’s proven that early diagnosis considerably increases the chances of successful treatment.

In fact, the less aggressive subtype can allow patients to live up to 15 years with the disease.

Therefore, besides knowing the common symptoms, it’s also important to understand the factors associated with increased risk.

These include:

  • Immune system deficiencies, including a history of transplantation, patients with HIV or autoimmune diseases.
  • Infection: a history of HIV, the Epstein-Barr virus, or Helicobacter pylori, among others.
  • Age: being over 60 years of age.
  • Skin color: being white-skinned.
  • Chemical exposure: being or having been exposed to chemicals such as herbicides and insecticides.
  • Exposure to radiation.

What does the treatment of lymphoma include?

cancer treatment

After detecting lymphoma, practitioners proceed with an immediate and intensive treatment.

The standard treatment of the disease in its more aggressive state consists of courses of chemotherapy and biological therapy.

In addition, radiation therapy may be effective for lymphoma patients in stage I and II. This depends on the activity of the malignant cells.

It’s important to keep in mind that timely detection cannot be achieved with any specific test.  Although they exist, they are not reliable.

For this reason, the most effect way is to keep an eye out for the symptoms and changes in the body. Then, if you find them, get them checked for any sign of the disease.

Likewise, if there is family history of the disease or you have exposure to the aforementioned risk factors, seek a regular check-up.

In conclusion, although in its early stages it is relatively undetectable, lymphoma can be detected in a timely manner with attention to the key signs.

Understanding the disease, checking for any symptoms, and regular medical examinations are all critical to reducing the risk of death.