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What is Lymphoma Cancer?
Lymphoma is a type of cancer that begins in immune system cells called lymphocytes. Like other cancers, lymphoma occurs when lymphocytes are in a state of uncontrolled cell growth and multiplication.
Lymphocytes are white blood cells that move throughout the body in a fluid called lymph. They are transported by a network of vessels that make up the lymphatic system, part of the immune system. The lymphatic system - whose job it is to fight infections or anything else that threatens the body - is also comprised of lymph nodes that exist throughout the body to filter the lymph that flows through them. The lymph nodes swell and tenderize when a large number of microbial organisms collect inside of them, indicating local infection.
There are two primary types of lymphocytes - B cells and T cells. Both are designed to recognize and destroy infections and abnormal cells. B cells produce proteins that travel throughout the body, attaching themselves to infectious organisms and abnormal cells and alerting the immune system that the pathogen needs to be destroyed. T cells actually kill the pathogens directly and serve a function in regulating the immune system from over or under-activity.
Lymphoma occurs when lymphocyte B or T cells transform and begin growing and multiplying uncontrollably. Abnormal lymphocytes collect in one or more lymph nodes or in lymph tissues such as the spleen or tonsils, and eventually they form a mass of cells called a tumor. Tumors grow and invade the space of surrounding tissues and organs, depriving them of oxygen and nutrients.
If abnormal lymphocytes travel from one lymph node to the next or to other organs, the cancer can spread or metastasize. Lymphoma development outside of lymphatic tissue is called extranodal disease.
There are two types of lymphoma -
Both HL and NHL can occur in the same places and have similar symptoms. Their differences are visible at a microscopic level.
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The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.
Dear GOD, if today I lose my hope please remind me that your plans are better than my Dream.....
Hodgkin’s lymphoma - formerly known as Hodgkin’s disease is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of your immune system.
In Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cells in the lymphatic system grow abnormally and may spread beyond the lymphatic system. As Hodgkin’s lymphoma progresses, it compromises your body’s ability to fight infection.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is one of two common types of cancers of the lymphatic system.
Advances in diagnosis and treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma have helped to give people with this diagnosis the chance for a full recovery. The prognosis continues to improve for people with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Symptoms of Hodgkin Lymphoma
Hodgkin’s lymphoma signs and symptoms may include -
Causes of Hodgkin Lymphoma
The cause of Hodgkin lymphoma is not known. Hodgkin lymphoma is most common among people ages 15 to 35 and 50 to 70. Past infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is thought to contribute to some cases. Persons with HIV infection are at increased risk compared to the general population.
Hodgkin Lymphoma Stages
Stages of Hodgkin’s lymphoma include -
Stage I - the cancer is limited to one lymph node region or a single organ.
Stage II - in this stage, the cancer is in two different lymph nodes or the cancer is in a portion of tissue or an organ and nearby lymph nodes. But the cancer is still limited to a section of the body either above or below the diaphragm.
Stage III - when the cancer moves to lymph nodes both above and below the diaphragm, it’s considered stage III. Cancer may also be in one portion of tissue or an organ near the lymph node groups or in the spleen.
Stage IV - this is the most advanced stage of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Cancer cells are in several portions of one or more organs and tissues. Stage IV Hodgkin’s lymphoma affects not only the lymph nodes but also other parts of your body, such as the liver, lungs or bones.
Diagnosis of Hodgkin Lymphoma
Swollen lymph nodes is one of the symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma that is associated with the diagnosis of lymphoma. A biopsy is also carried out that helps in revealing the presence of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Some of other tests that help in checking the spread of lymphoma include -
Treatment of Hodgkin Lymphoma
Which treatment options are appropriate for your Hodgkin’s lymphoma depends on your type and stage of disease, your overall health and your preferences. The goal of treatment is to destroy as many cancer cells as possible and bring the disease into remission.
Chemotherapy - chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses chemicals to kill lymphoma cells. Chemotherapy drugs travel through your bloodstream and can reach nearly all areas of your body.
Chemotherapy is often combined with radiation therapy in people with early-stage classical type Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Radiation therapy is typically done after chemotherapy. In advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chemotherapy may be used alone or combined with radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy drugs can be taken in pill form or through a vein in your arm. Several combinations of chemotherapy drugs are used to treat Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Side effects of chemotherapy depend on the specific drugs you’re given. Common side effects include nausea and hair loss. Serious long-term complications can occur, such as heart damage, lung damage, fertility problems and other cancers, such as leukemia.
Radiation - radiation therapy uses high-energy beams, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells. For classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma, radiation therapy can be used alone, but it is often used after chemotherapy. People with early-stage lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin’os lymphoma typically undergo radiation therapy alone.
Stem cell transplant - a stem cell transplant is a treatment to replace your diseased bone marrow with healthy stem cells that help you grow new bone marrow. A stem cell transplant may be an option if Hodgkin’s lymphoma returns despite treatment.
During a stem cell transplant, your own blood stem cells are removed, frozen and stored for later use. Next you receive high-dose chemotherapy and radiation therapy to destroy cancerous cells in your body. Finally your stem cells are thawed and injected into your body through your veins. The stem cells help to build healthy bone marrow.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is cancer of the lymph tissue. Lymph tissue is found in the lymph nodes, spleen, and other organs of the immune system.
White blood cells called lymphocytes are found in lymph tissue. They help prevent infections. Most lymphomas start in a type of white blood cell called B lymphocyte, or B cell.
Types of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Lymphomas are often described as B-cell lymphomas or T-cell lymphomas according to whether they began in B-cell lymphocytes or T-cell lymphocytes.
B-cell lymphomas are much more common than T-cell lymphomas. About 9 out of 10 people diagnosed with NHL have a B-cell lymphoma. The most common B-cell lymphomas are -
Other, less common, types include -
Types of T-cell lymphoma include -
Symptoms of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Causes of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
For most patients, the cause of NHL is unknown. But lymphomas may develop in people with weakened immune systems, including persons who have had an organ transplant or persons with HIV infection.
NHL most often affects adults. Men get NHL more often than women. Children can get some forms of lymphoma.
There are many types of NHL. Specific types are grouped according to how fast the cancer spreads. The cancer may be low grade (slow growing), intermediate grade, or high grade (fast growing).
The cancer is further grouped by how the cells look under the microscope, what type of white blood cell it originates from, and whether there are certain DNA changes.
Stages of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Stage I - the cells are found in only one lymph node area (such as in the neck or axilla). Or, if the abnormal cells are not in the lymph nodes, they are in only one part of a tissue or organ (such as the lung, but not the liver or bone marrow).
Stage II - the lymphoma cells are found in at least two lymph node areas on the same side of the body or only above or below the diaphragm. Or the cells are in one organ and the lymph nodes affected are near that organ
Stage III - the lymphoma is in lymph nodes above and below the diaphragm. There might be spread into an organ near this lymph node group.
Stage IV - in addition to lymph cell spread, lymphoma cells are found in several parts of one or more organs or tissues.
Diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Treatment of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
The treatment of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma depends on its stage, symptoms and the type. The aim of the treatment is to eliminate the lymphoma without causing any damage to the surrounding cells. The common treatment options for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma include -
Chemotherapy - chemotherapy is drug treatment - given orally or by injection - that kills cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs can be given alone, in combination with other chemotherapy drugs or combined with other treatments.
Radiation therapy - radiation therapy uses high-powered energy beams, such as X-rays, to kill cancerous cells and shrink tumors. During radiation therapy, you’re positioned on a table and a large machine directs radiation at precise points on your body. Radiation therapy can be used alone or in combination with other cancer treatments.
Stem cell transplant - a stem cell transplant is a procedure that involves very high doses of chemotherapy or radiation with the goal of killing the lymphoma cells that may not be killed with standard doses. Later, healthy stem cells - your own or from a donor - are injected into your body, where they can form new healthy blood cells.
Biological drugs - these are medications that enhance your immune system’s ability to fight cancers. In NHL, monoclonal antibodies are used for treatment. The therapy is administered via an IV, and the monoclonal antibodies bind to the cancer cells and augment the immune system’s ability to destroy cancer cells. Rituximab (Rituxan) is such a drug used in the treatment of B cell lymphoma. Side effects for this treatment are usually flu-like symptoms. Rarely, a person can have a severe reaction, including a drop in blood pressure or difficulty breathing.
Radio immunotherapy medications - these are made of monoclonal antibodies that transport radioactive materials directly to cancer cells. Because the radioactive material is traveling and binding directly to the cancer cell, more radiation is delivered to the cancer cell and less to the normal tissue. Ibritumomab (Zevalin) and tositumomab (Bexxar) are two drugs approved for this use in lymphomas. Side effects usually include getting very tired or experiencing flu-like symptoms.
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