Lymphoma is a term used for the cancer of lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is made up of lymph nodes or lymph glands, lymphatic vessels and other lymphatic organs like the thymus gland, spleen and the bone marrow. In lymphoma, the lymphocytes (a kind of white blood cells) are affected. The lymphocytes play an important role in disease fighting mechanism of our body. They are an important part of our immune system.
How Bad Is Lymphoma Cancer?
Well, a lymphoma cancer is highly treatable. But, the prognosis depends on the type of lymphoma and also to the stage it has progressed to. Some of the subtypes are curable, while in others, the survival rate can be prolonged by the use of proper treatment.
In order to understand this further, let us have a look at the symptoms and the recommended line of treatment for lymphoma.
Signs And Symptoms Of Lymphoma
The symptoms of lymphoma are most of the times non-specific. The most primary symptom is lymphadenopathy, meaning that there is an enlargement of lymph nodes. Generally, this swelling is not painful. Some symptoms are common in both types of lymphoma. They include an unwanted weight loss, night sweats and fever too. Also, there may be loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, fatigue. There can also be respiratory issues. Fatigue is also seen in some. Also, there can be other symptoms depending upon whether the enlarged lymph nodes are affecting any other body part or organ.
However, many of these symptoms are similar to the ones present in some altogether different illness. Hence, it is essential to get oneself evaluated to rule out the possible chances of any other diseases, as well as to confirm the presence of lymphoma.
Treatment Of Lymphoma
Lymphoma is a highly treatable disease. However, the chances of recovery depend upon what type of lymphoma one is suffering from and what stage it has progressed to.
The treatment also varies according to the grades of lymphomas. The grading can be done as low grade and high-grade lymphomas.
The low-grade lymphomas lie silent for many years. They do not cause any symptoms generally and the treatment is avoided in such cases if the person is asymptomatic. Instead, many physicians believe in watchful waiting. However, this approach might not be suitable for many, as it may result in even more anxiety and depression related symptoms. In this type, the choice of treatment is generally chemotherapy or radiotherapy
The high-grade lymphomas are more aggressive ones and they spread rapidly. However, most of the times, such types are highly curable. The prognosis of in some cases of high-grade lymphomas may be poor, due to unsatisfactory response to therapy. Generally, aggressive chemotherapy is used as the line of treatment. Relapses can occur within a couple of years. However, this risk comes down after these initial years.
Immunotherapy and targeted therapy are the other options.
If none of these treatments work, then stem cell transplant can be an option. Lymphoma is a treatable cancer. However, the prognosis depends on when it was diagnosed and how far it has spread. Cure is possible with early detection and efficient advanced treatment.
Lymphoma affects the white blood cells. As the lymphoma is present in the blood, it can easily spread or metastasize to the different parts of the body.
There are two main categories of lymphoma – Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Both these types are similar in many ways. However, the prime difference is associated with the presence of different types of cell involvement in both the types.
When the cancer cells are observed under a microscope, an expert pathologist can spot the difference between the two different types of cells involved. In Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a specific type of abnormal cell called Reed-Sternberg cell is present, whereas, if this particular type of cell is absent, the lymphoma is classified as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
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