An Overview of Lymphoma Cancer
The human body’s immune system is intricately designed to include white blood cells that fight infection in order to keep us healthy. For that reason, it can be particularly distressing to hear from your doctor that you have lymphoma, a cancer that kills these infection-fighting cells.
Thankfully, lymphoma is largely manageable, and recent years have revealed major advancements in how lymphoma can be treated. Read on for a comprehensive look at lymphoma, the related symptoms, and find the right treatment plan for you.
What Causes Lymphoma?
Unlike most other cancers, doctors today are still stumped as to what exactly causes lymphoma. All they know for sure is that lymphoma starts in the body’s lymphocytes, or to the layman, its infection-fighting white blood cells. Lymphocytes are located in several places throughout the body, including:
- Lymph nodes
- Bone marrow
The Two Types of Lymphoma
The different types of lymphoma can be diagnosed as:
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (the far more common type)
- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which is diagnosed when your doctor identifies the presence of a particular abnormal cell known as a Reed-Sternberg cell.
Aside from the stark contrast in their occurrence rates, the only real difference between Non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is how it gets treated.
What are the Symptoms?
Regardless of which type of lymphoma you have, your body may respond in the following ways:
- Swollen (albeit painless) glands. These will typically be located in the groin, neck, or armpit
- Perpetual fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Excessive coughing
- Night sweats
- Persistent itching
- Rapid weight loss
It’s important to note that none of these symptoms are specific to lymphoma. Just because you experience one or more of them, doesn’t necessarily mean that you have lymphoma.
What are the Risk Factors for Lymphoma?
Though children older than five can contract lymphoma, it’s much more common among adults, particularly older adults. People over 60 are most vulnerable to Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, while people who either fall in the 15-40 or 55 and up age brackets have the highest risk of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Largely speaking, lymphoma is more common among men. Other risk factors include:
- Immune System Resume – Contracting viruses like HIV/AIDS, Human T-Cell Leukemia, Hepatitis C and Epstein-Barr takes a major toll on your immune system, and thus greatly increases your chances of lymphoma. The same goes for having an organ transplant or an immune system disease like Sjogren’s Syndrome, lupus, celiac or rheumatoid arthritis.
- Genetics – Unfortunately, lymphoma can run in the family. If a close relative of yours had lymphoma, it boosts the chances of you having it as well.
- Exposure – If, in the past, you’ve been overly exposed to either bug and weed-killing chemicals like Benzine or radiation as part of cancer treatment, that puts you at a higher risk.
The Stages of Lymphoma
Like most cancers, Non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s lymphoma alike are diagnosed in four stages, Stage IV being the most severe.
The stages of lymphoma are as follows:
- Stage I – The cancer is restricted to a centralized lymphatic area.
- Stage II – The cancer spreads to two or more lymphatic areas located either above or below the diaphragm.
- Stage III – The cancer spreads to multiple lymphatic areas both above and below the diaphragm.
- Stage IV – The cancer spreads to one or more organs that aren’t part of a lymphatic area. It also spreads to lymph nodes located far away from the infected organ.
How is Lymphoma Tested and Treated?
When getting tested for lymphoma, your doctor will begin by examining any swollen lymph nodes you may have. Oftentimes, swollen lymph nodes are merely the product of a minor infection unrelated to lymphoma.
If, however, your doctor determines that the possibility of lymphoma is in play, you have several testing options at your disposal, including:
- Lymph Node Biopsy – This entails your doctor checking for cancer cells by either removing all or part of the affected lymph node or using a needle to extract a small amount of tissue from it.
- Bone Marrow Biopsy – Your doctor looks for infected blood cells by conducting the same needle test, but instead extracts tissue from your bone marrow.
- Chest X-Ray, MRI or PET Scan – Using minimal doses of radiation, your doctor will create images to zero in on parts of your body where lymphoma may have spread.
- Molecular and Blood Tests – Your doctor checks the blood levels and other vital numbers related to the molecular composition of your cells to identify any abnormal cell growth.
Alternative Treatment for Lymphoma Cancer
Treatment for cancer depends on your health, personal needs, and the stage that the cancer has progressed. Typically, anal cancer is treated with surgery, immunotherapy, or a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. However, these types of treatment may leave you and your immune system weak and depleted, preventing you from properly fighting off the cancer cells.
This is where alternative treatments come into play. These natural targeted therapy approaches for cancer patients can work in conjunction with more traditional treatments to ease side effects and support their recovery.
At Immunity Therapy Center we can provide an alternative mesothelioma treatment catered to your health. Our primary goal is to provide a comprehensive range of alternative treatment options for cancer that will leave you feeling better than traditional chemotherapy. Our team is committed to consulting directly with you to develop a treatment plan that is individualized to work with your personal needs and health while providing flexibility and knowledge to adjust and adapt your treatment as your health changes. Dr. Bautista offers one-on-one consultations to truly get to know you as a person and build a working relationship to provide you with the most alternative cancer treatment.
1) “What is Lymphoma” by editorial staff at WebMD
2) “Lymphoma (also called Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma)” by editorial staff at Medline Plus
3) “What to Know about Lymphoma” by Christina Chun