Lymphoma is a type of cancer which develops in the lymphocytes, which are the cells in the immune system that fight off infections. The lymphatic system, which lymphoma affects, consists of the bone marrow, spleen, thymus gland and the lymph nodes. However, the disease can also affect other areas of the body or organs.
The white blood cells, which are produced in the bone marrow, play an important role in the body’s immune system, which is to fight off infections and prevent illnesses. Lymphoma can affect anybody; however it is one of the most common causes of cancer in children and young adults.
Types of Lymphoma
There are two main types of lymphoma. These are:
- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Also known as Hodgkin’s disease, this is a type of blood cancer that starts in the lymphatic system, in the upper body. The lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cells, help the body fight off infections.
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
This is similar to the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and accounts for almost 95% of lymphoma cases. In Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the cancers originate from the lymphatic system, but unlike Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the cancers grow anywhere in the body, and are not restricted only to the upper part of the body. Additionally, they are characterized by abnormal lymphocytes known as the Reed-Sternberg cell
Causes and Risk Factors of Lymphoma
Currently, there is no known cause of lymphoma, but there are risk factors that can trigger the disease. These include:
- Age: Lymphoma is common among people who are more than 60 years old, as well as younger adults, children and infants.
- A weak immune system
- Family history of lymphoma
- Autoimmune diseases
- Exposure to high amounts of radiation
- Certain infectious diseases including the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), Helicobacter pylori, and Hepatitis C among others.
Symptoms of Lymphoma
Since there are different types of lymphoma, the symptoms may vary. Some of the common symptoms include:
- Persistent infections
- Enlarged spleen
- Stomach pain
- Pain in the bones
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
- Poor blood clotting
- Persistent fatigue
- Itchy skin and rash
- Night sweats (excessive)
- Poor appetite
- Painful Lymph nodes
- Unexplained cough
Diagnosis of Lymphoma
If you’re presenting the above symptoms, it is highly recommended that you visit a Hematologist-Oncologist as soon as possible for a diagnosis. To get a definitive diagnosis, the expert will order several tests, which include:
- Physical exam
- Bone marrow biopsy
- Chest x-ray
- Blood screening
- Lymph node tests
- Molecular tests
Treatment of Lymphoma
The treatment of lymphoma is dependent on a number of factors including:
- The type of lymphoma
- The stage of the disease
- The rate at which it is progressing
- The overall health and wellbeing of the patient
- If the disease has spread to other areas
Treatment options of lymphoma include:
Chemotherapy: This is one of the main treatment of lymphoma and it involves the use of a combination of anti-cancer drugs to destroy the lymphoma cells.
Radiation Therapy: This form of treatment uses powerful X-ray energy to destroy the lymphoma cells, and to stop them from growing.
Targeted Therapy: This is a form of treatment that targets and slows down or stops the growth of the cancerous cells.
Immunotherapy: This is a form of lymphoma treatment that attacks the cancer cells with the use of the body’s immune system.
Bone Marrow Transplant: Also known as stem cell transplant, a bone marrow transplant replaces the abnormal bone marrow cells with healthy ones to regenerate healthy non-cancerous blood cells. This mode of treatment is done after destroying the lymphoma cells through chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
At King’s College Hospital Dubai, we focus on offering an exemplary service. From initial consultation through to final diagnosis, treatment and beyond. Our multidisciplinary team of expert doctors and nurses, and technologists led by Dr Hassan Ghazal – an American triple board-certified Consultant Medical Oncologist and a Consultant Clinical Hematologist with more than 3 decades of clinical experience, are here to offer tailored management and treatment of your condition, and to answer any questions that you may have throughout your time with us. Whatever you need us for, we’re only a phone-call away.
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