Lymphoma: Symptoms and Causes
Lymphoma is a general term for cancers that begins in the lymph system. The two main types of lymphoma are:
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma – spreads through the lymphatic system in a non-orderly manner.
- Hodgkin lymphoma – spreads in an orderly manner from one group of lymph nodes to another.
Lymphoma cancer can occur in adults, teens, and children of any age.
Causes of Lymphoma
Lymphoma is caused by a mutation in a disease-fighting white blood cell called a lymphocyte. A mutation causes the cell to multiply rapidly, leading to many diseased lymphocytes that continue to multiply.
Mutations also allow the cells to continue to live when other normal cells would die. Having too many diseased and ineffective lymphocytes in your lymph nodes causes swelling in your lymph nodes, spleen, and liver.
Symptoms of Lymphoma
The symptoms of Lymphoma may include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Itchy skin
- Night sweats
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent fatigue
- Painless swelling of lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, or groin
Risk Factors of Lymphoma
Factors that increase the risk of Lymphoma include:
Developing certain infections: Some infections are associated with an increased risk of lymphoma, including the Helicobacter pylori infection and Epstein-Barr virus.
Having an impaired immune system: Lymphoma is more common in people with immune system diseases or in people who take drugs that suppress their immune system.
Being male: Males are slightly more likely to develop lymphoma than are females.
Your age: Some types of lymphoma are more common in young adults, while others are most often diagnosed in people over 55.
Diagnosis for Lymphoma
Tests and procedures used to diagnose lymphoma may include:
- Imaging tests
- Removing a sample of bone marrow for testing
- Blood tests
- Removing a lymph node for testing
- Physical exam
Depending on your situation, other tests and procedures may be required. To develop an effective treatment plan, you need to know what type of lymphoma you have. Expert pathologists review biopsy samples to improve the chances of an accurate diagnosis, according to research. Ask a specialist for a second opinion to confirm your diagnosis.
Treatment and Medications for Lymphoma
Your lymphoma treatment choices depend on the type and stage of your disease, your overall health, and your preferences. During treatment, the goal is to destroy as many cancer cells as possible and bring the disease into remission.
Treatment for lymphoma include:
- Bone marrow transplant
- Radiation therapy
- Active surveillance
Medications approved to use in Lymphoma:
1. Bone marrow stimulant – helps bone marrow produce new blood cells.
Pegfilgrastim – used to reduce the chance of infection in people who have certain types of cancer and are receiving chemotherapy medications that may decrease the number of neutrophils.
Filgrastim – used to treat neutropenia (low white blood cells) that is caused by cancer medicines. Filgrastim helps the bone marrow to make new white blood cells.
2. Steroid – modifies or simulates hormone effects, often to reduce inflammation or for tissue growth and repair.
Prednisone – treats many diseases, especially those associated with inflammation.