Can Cancer Be Mistaken For Mono?

The main feature for mononucleosis and Lymphoma is enlarged lymph nodes. And there is a possibility that the individual had suffered EBV infection. The virus might have activated the genes responsible for B-cell lymphomas resulting in cancer. Doctors should perform differential diagnosis if the symptoms are persistent. As the symptoms are the same there is a possibility that cancer is mistaken for Mono.

Advertisement

Cancer has been emerging with high speed in the population. The exact cause of the disease is not known although microbes, genetics, and environmental factors seem to play a major role. The deaths due to cancers have increased in the recent past, but also note there are many treatment options available provided cancer is detected at an early stage.

Advertisement

There is scientific evidence which links viruses as the causative organism for cancer. Although it is difficult to establish a direct link but they seem to be involved in the development of cancer.

Mono is a viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in about 90% of cases. It is also caused by Cytomegalovirus in few cases also. The infection is transmitted by deep oral kissing or sharing of glasses, tooth brush, and other utensils. It is also expected to be transferred through saliva by coughing and sneezing. Mono is a disease of young adults and most people do not develop any symptoms. As it is spread from kissing it is often referred to as kissing disease.

Advertisement

It is estimated that about 90% of the human population is affected by the EBV virus in the lifetime and the symptoms of infection may or may not get recognized. The symptoms of infections of EBV might appear and subside after a period of time, maybe a week or two but the virus still continues to be in the dormant phase in the body. EBV infects B-cell i.e. B-lymphocytes a type of white blood cells and decreases the immunity. Lymphomas are cancers of white blood cells. EBV can affect the growth-activating genes of B-cells increasing the risk of B-cell cancers in certain patients. There are no prophylactic or therapeutic vaccines for EBV infection. EBV might reside in the body for life and in most cases; it is not known to cause any major complications. EBV infection can increase the risk of nasopharyngeal cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma and Burkitt lymphoma, a type of fast-growing lymphomas. It is also linked with gastric carcinomas. EBV-related cancers are prevalent in Africa and parts of Southeast Asia.

The symptoms of Mono and lymphoma seems to be similar, hence the doctors may misdiagnose Mono to lymphoma. It is a common sight to experience fatigue, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, or night sweats along with swollen lymph nodes and shortness of breath due to obstruction of the airway by swollen lymph in both Mono and lymphoma.

Mono is characterized by swelling of lymph nodes which lasts for a long duration of time. If a doctor suspects an unusual growth then patients are advised or biopsy and differential diagnosis for the exact cause of enlargement of lymph nodes. It will be difficult to identify whether the symptoms are because of mononucleosis or other diseases. The symptoms can also because of simple cold and flu as well. A doctor has to do a detailed analysis to identify the cause of symptoms. The differentiating features of Mono include an enlarged spleen, swollen liver and white patches on the tonsils. The doctor will do a differential diagnosis for the presence of EBV antibodies in the blood.

If the disease is suspected to be lymphoma, doctors will advise for biopsy of lymph nodes by partial or complete removal of it for testing. A bone marrow aspiration and biopsy procedure are performed to identify lymphoma cells. Doctors perform CT, MRI and positron emission tomography (PET) to identify the symptoms of lymphoma in the body.

It is not necessary that all individuals infected with viruses will develop cancer, but the risk of developing cancer increases.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: February 18, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

Advertisement

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

We'll help you live each day to the healthiest