There are several types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, of which MALT (Mucosa-Associated Lymphoid Tissue) is a specific type. What all forms of lymphoma cancer share, regardless of their status Hodgkin's or non-Hodgkin's, is that they affect the white blood cells known as Lymphocytes which are an important part of the human immune system.
What Makes MALT Lymphoma Different
The vast majority of lymphoma cancer types start in lymph nodes – such as those found in the neck, armpit or groin – MALT lymphoma does not. Instead, it starts in another lymphatic tissue which is known as ‘Mucosa-Associated Lymphoid Tissue’, which lines several organs in the body including the thyroid, breast, gastrointestinal tract, skin, eye and salivary gland.
Who is Affected
MALT Lymphoma can affect anyone, but is primarily found in older people above the 60 years of age.
What Causes MALT Lymphoma
Malt lymphoma has been linked to patients who suffer from an autoimmune condition in the area, as well as various infections. For instance, the vast majority of cases where MALT lymphoma has been diagnosed in the stomach have been linked to a chronic ‘Helicobacter pylori’ infection (some sources state as between 70 and 98 per cent). However, MALT lymphoma can affect several other parts of the body – as listed above – and the cause of appearance in these areas is as of yet unknown.
Unlike most forms of lymphoma, which can be identified through swollen lymph glands, there are no external signs associated with MALT. However, when situated in the stomach it has been associated with suppressed appetite, indigestion, lethargy, and unexpected and rapid weight loss.
Should there be reason to believe that a patient suffers from MALT lymphoma, their doctor may perform and endoscopy (which is when a flexible tube is inserted orally into the stomach in order to take pictures and collect a sample of the affected area). Should a sample be collected, this will then be examined by use of a microscope that allows the doctor to establish whether the cells are indeed cancerous.
The treatment will depend on which part of the patient’s body is affected. If the affected area is within the stomach, the first course of action will often be a treatment consisting of anti-acid and antibiotic medication. Should this not prove effective, and for other forms of MALT lymphoma, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy may be needed.
The only way to determine whether or not you suffer from any form of lymphoma is through consultation with your doctor. It is important to remember that many of the signs associated with various forms of lymphoma can also be symptoms of other diseases, and as such should not be seen as immediate signs of undue worry, but as a sign that a consultation with a trained medical professional is necessary. There are no home-tests available for any form of cancer, and it is important to remember that no natural or homeopathic treatments have ever been proven effective in clinical trials. Always consult your doctor before commencing or discontinuing any treatment.