The thought of cancer is a scary one to most people; this is because it is a disease, or a group of diseases that are very hard to explain. No one can say with any certainty just what causes a person’s cells to become cancerous and the survival rate is not very high. It is a disease which affects the cells and the abnormal (cancerous) cells can spread through the body very rapidly through the blood or the lymph. When a cancer begins in the lymphatic system, it is known as lymphoma cancer.
What is Lymphoma Cancer?
Lymphoma cancer is used to refer to cancerous cells which begin in the immune system. Just as there are different types of diseases referred to as cancer, there are different types of lymphomas. However, there are two main types of lymphomas which are the Hodgkin lymphoma and the non-Hodgkin lymphomas.
Hodgkin lymphoma is also called Hodgkin disease. Several symptoms accompany this type of lymphoma cancer and they include weight loss, fatigue, and enlargement of the lymph nodes, spleen or some other immune tissue.
The second type of lymphoma cancer, the non-Hodgkin lymphomas, is a term used to cover a very diverse group of cancers which affect the immune system cells. There are those that have an indolent course, meaning that they progress slowly, and those which have an aggressive course. The treatment used for these subtypes vary because their behaviour is different.
The occurrence of both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be in both children and in adults and the stage of the lymphoma cancer including the type of lymphoma will affect the prognosis and treatment.
How Do I Know If I Have Lymphoma?
As with most cancers, it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly causes a person to have lymphoma cancer, however there are certain risk factors that have been identified. One of the risk factors which have been identified for lymphoma cancer is a weakened immune system. This can either be a condition that was inherited or one which developed as a result of an organ transplant or the use of certain drugs. Age is also a risk factor for lymphomas. While Hodgkin lymphoma is more common among teenagers and adults from age 15 to 35 years and seniors from 55 years and older, non-Hodgkin lymphoma is more often found among people older than 60.
Certain viruses and infections can also increase the risk of lymphoma cancer such as HIV, EPV and Hepatitis C among others. For Hodgkin lymphoma, the family history may also be a factor. Some of the symptoms of lymphoma cancer include swollen lymph nodes in the underarms, groin or neck, which are painless; unexplained weight loss; consistent tiredness; fever; night sweats; itchy skin; and coughing , chest pain or laboured breathing.
These symptoms are not limited to cancer as it is possible to experience them without having any form of cancer. Nevertheless, it is best to visit the GP for further advice.
Treatments Available for Lymphoma Cancer
As already stated, the treatments for lymphoma cancer vary and depend mostly on the type of lymphoma and the stage of the cancer. For Hodgkin lymphoma, treatment will usually be
- Radiation Therapy
- Stem Cell Transplant
While for non-Hodgkin lymphoma the same treatment can be applied with a few other options:
- Watchful Waiting
- Biological Therapy
Lymphoma cancer, like most cancers will respond better to treatment when there is early diagnosis, which is why a regular visit to the GP for tests and check up is always advised.