While lymphoma is a fairly common type of cancer, intestinal lymphoma (also known as gastric lymphoma) is not particularly so; indeed, they only account for in the area of 2 per cent of all diagnosed lymphomas. They are most commonly found in older adults, from 50 and upwards, and not usually in children.
Lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects your white blood cells. Over 70 forms of lymphoma have been found, and the majority of them manifest themselves in the lymph nodes (such as in the neck) but not so intestinal lymphoma. Rather unusually, intestinal lymphoma initially takes hold in the lymphatic tissue which lines the intestines.
Symptoms of Intestinal Lymphoma
Most forms of lymphoma share similar symptoms, and while intestinal lymphoma is different from many other forms as mentioned above, it does share many of the general lymphoma symptoms. These include, but are not limited to:
- Rapid and inexplicable weight loss;
- Lack of energy, lethargy;
- Heavy nocturnal sweating;
- A loss of appetite; and
In addition to these quite general lymphoma symptoms, intestinal lymphoma may also present these further symptoms:
- Sore stomach, either constant or to the touch;
- Abdominal growth;
- Stomach ulcers; and
- Reaching a feeling of being full from smaller portions than usual
As always, it is of importance that these symptoms are not reacted to out of context. Even if you suffer from several of the above symptoms, this is by no means a guarantee that you have intestinal lymphoma; indeed, there are a whole range of other afflictions that could fit the same descriptions. Regardless, you are advised to contact your local GP or phone the NHS Direct on 0845 4647.
As with many gastrointestinal afflictions, the most commonly performed test is a combination endoscopy and biopsy. Endoscopy means that a small flexible tube fitted with a light and a camera will be sent down your gullet in order to offer the doctor an internal view of your stomach, while a biopsy is when a small piece of the affected area is surgically removed (during the endoscopy) for further testing. This can only be done by a trained professional, and should never be attempted outside of hospital.
Most commonly patients will need to undergo chemotherapy, and this may last anywhere between 5 treatments to several years’ worth of treatments depending on the stage and prominence of the cancer. As with any other serious ailment, never start a new treatment of stop a current one without first consulting your doctor. Should chemotherapy, or the treatment prescribed by their doctor, not work as quickly or well as initially hoped, many patients are tempted to seek out more information on their condition online and make their own suggestions – which is fine, but don’t start anything without consulting your doctor – or seek the advice of ‘alternative medicine’ professionals such as homeopaths. No such course of action has ever been proven, in a published clinical trial, to be as effective as standard medical treatment.