If you or your loved one has lymphoma, you may have a lot of questions regarding the condition. Most people may wonder whether the condition runs in the family. Is lymphoma genetic? Can someone inherit it from their parents or pass it on to other generations? In short, is lymphoma hereditary?
What is Lymphoma
Lymphoma refers to a group of blood cancers that develops from mutation and uncontrolled growth of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. Mutations happen all the time and are majorly harmless. But at times, they may affect critical genes. For example, the DNA of a lymphocyte may change in ways that make the cell stop responding to the signals that typically keep it in check.
Lymphoma develops when DNA changes occur in more than one critical gene in a certain combination. A single mutation is often inadequate to cause lymphoma. It takes several different changes for the condition to develop.
Types of Lymphoma
The two broad categories of this condition are Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. What is the difference between Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma? The biggest difference is how the lymphoma spreads throughout the body. However, there are over seventy different types of lymphoma, ranging from slow-growing to highly aggressive.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma accounts for nearly 90% of all diagnosed lymphomas, making it the most common form of the condition among lymphoma patients. It can occur at any age, but patients are more likely to develop this lymphoma in older age. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is further classified into two categories: B-cell lymphomas and T-cell lymphomas.
B-cell lymphoma occurs in about 80% of lymphoma patients, thus a more common type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Examples of B-cell lymphomas are follicular lymphoma, marginal zone lymphoma, Burkitt lymphoma, mantle cell lymphoma, primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma, post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder, etc. Examples of T-cell lymphomas are extranodal NK/T-cell lymphoma, anaplastic large-cell lymphoma, peripheral T-cell lymphoma not otherwise specified, hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma, and angioimmunoblastic lymphoma.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a less common category of lymphomas occurring in only 10% of the patients diagnosed with the condition. Doctors check for Reed-Sternberg cells to conclude that a patient has Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The condition is more frequent in younger people. There are two main types of Hodgkin’s lymphoma: classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Causes of Lymphoma
Genetics has a fundamental role in the development of lymphoma. However, what causes mutation remains unknown. But there are risk factors that put an individual at a higher risk of developing the condition. These factors increase the rate of natural mutation events. They include:
Is lymphoma genetic? Well, lymphoma does not result from a single gene. However, there are some that may predispose an individual to the disease. For instance, oncogenes are crucial in cell growth and division, while tumor suppressor genes have a role in informing a cell to die. Genetic mutation involving either or both of these genes can suddenly lead to multiplication and uncontrolled spread.
Remember that lymphoma starts when there is a combination of mutations. This can shed more light on the question: is non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s lymphoma hereditary? The chance of developing an autosomal dominant disorder is 50/50 if an individual inherits a gene. But lymphomas are different and lack a clear pattern of inheritance. However, the family has a key role in the overall risk, especially in Hodgkin’s lymphoma. According to research on blood, having a first-degree relative, either a sibling or a parent, with Hodgkin’s lymphoma increases the risk of getting the condition by three times compared to the general population. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has a far less clear inheritance pattern in families. There is a modest familiar risk, but genetic mutations are more commonly acquired than passed to generations.
Sex places some people at a higher risk of developing lymphoma than others. Generally, men have a slightly higher risk of developing the condition than women. However, there are some types of lymphomas for which women are at a higher risk of developing. These include; nodular sclerosing Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma of the thyroid, breast, and respiratory tract.
Age has a critical role in the development of this condition. Generally, lymphoma can affect an individual at any age. However, most non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnoses occur in adults above 60, while Hodgkin’s lymphoma occurs between 15 and 40 years. Therefore, the median age for diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma is 39, while that of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is 55.
B-cells and T-cells are two main types of lymphocytes that can cause cancer. The immune system suppresses mutations in these cells and thus has a crucial role in developing lymphoma. Typically, the immune response tends to weaken with age. Perhaps it is the reason why lymphomas commonly occur in people above 60 years. But the loss of immune function does not occur due to age alone.
Other factors, such as advanced HIV infection, can increase the risk of lymphocyte-depleted Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The infection causes severe depletion of T-cells, thus causing this rare form of lymphoma.
Organ transplant recipients may also be at a higher risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas such as Burkitt lymphoma, hepatosplenic T-Cell lymphoma, and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Organ rejection is prevented in these patients using immunosuppressant drugs, which affect the immune system. Some autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and Sjögren syndrome, can cause higher rates of lymphoma. People with these conditions may be at several times higher risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma than the general population.
Several viral, parasitic, and bacterial infections can induce the condition in people genetically predisposed to lymphoma or cause the DNA changes themselves. There is a link between helicobacter pylori and mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma, cellulitis and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, human herpesvirus 8 and primary effusion lymphoma (PEL), Human T-cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV-1) and adult T-cell lymphoma. There is also a link between Epstein-Barr virus and post-transplant lymphoma and Burkitt lymphoma.
Some studies suggest a link between chemicals such as benzene and certain insecticides to increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. One study found a close relationship between the use of fungicides and insecticides and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Another study found that people diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma had higher pesticide concentrations in their blood than people without.
Several studies have found a direct relationship between obesity and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Increased body mass index (BMI) corresponds to a higher risk of lymphoma. A study reveals that every 5 kg/m2 increase in body mass index can cause a 10% increase in the risk of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The study investigated the effect of obesity on 5.8 million people in the UK and concluded that 7.4% of lymphoma cases among adults could be attributed to being overweight or obese, i.e., having a BMI over 25 or over 30. The impact of body mass index on lymphoma is more important than the type of fat consumed. Early claims linked certain fats to gastrointestinal lymphoma. However, there is a link between trans fats and a significantly higher incidence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in women. It is not clear whether losing weight can reduce the risk of lymphoma. However, maintaining an ideal weight and healthy diet is critical to a person’s health and helps boost immune function.
Symptoms of Lymphoma
What are symptoms of lymphoma? Symptoms of lymphoma vary from one patient to another based on the specific type and stage.
Below are the most common symptoms:
- Fever and chills
- Extreme, unexplained weight loss
- Bone pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Coughing, trouble breathing, or chest pain
- Itchy skin
The doctor performs a physical exam, e.g., checking for swollen lymph nodes. However, swollen lymph nodes won’t mean you have lymphoma; they can be caused by an infection that is unrelated to this condition.
Therefore, the healthcare provider must perform a biopsy test to check for cancer cells. The doctor removes part or the entire lymph node or takes a small tissue from the affected area using a needle. Other tests that can help diagnose and determine the stage of lymphoma include:
This technique uses a powerful magnet and radio waves to create images of structures and organs inside the body.
Bone marrow aspiration
This test involves removing tissue or fluid from the bone marrow using a needle. The doctor will look for lymphoma cells in this spongy part where blood cell production occurs.
This imaging test finds cancer cells in the body using a radioactive substance.
Low doses of radiation make images of the inside of the chest.
It checks the blood for levels of certain substances and cells or evidence of infection. Each person has a different health history, prognosis, and diagnosis. Therefore, there must be a customized cancer treatment plan to address the particular needs of each person.
This test detects changes in various substances, including genes and proteins, to help determine the type of lymphoma in a patient.
Alternative Cancer Therapy
Chemotherapy or radiation has been the conventional route for treating lymphoma, but they have their side effects. Luckily, multiple alternative lymphoma cancer therapies as well as natural treatment options for non-hodgkin lymphoma complement traditional methods. These options include:
This therapy combines low-intensity ultrasound with tissues that increase tissue sensitivity to ultrasound (sonosensitizers). It combines with molecular oxygen to produce reactive oxygen species that kill cancer cells and hinder tumor cell proliferation. Sonodynamic therapy is an independent treatment method but may be used alongside chemotherapy.
Immunotherapy targets cancer cells using the patient’s own immune cells to provide long-term protection against cancer. The treatment option is less invasive and requires less frequent dosing than other cancer treatments.
Immunotherapy administers modified immune cells back into the body, preventing T-cell deactivation. It is a versatile option for patients with varying administration methods, from oral drugs to intravesical injections.
This therapy uses natural systemic enzymes to neutralize cancer cells and shrink tumors. It enhances the immune system’s ability to attack cancer cells.
Get Alternative Therapy for Lymphoma
Although family has a key role in the overall risk of developing lymphoma, gene mutations are more often acquired than passed to generations. Nevertheless, lymphoma, whether non-Hodgkin’s or Hodgkin’s, is manageable using natural treatments.
Alternative cancer therapies are impactful, just like conventional options. Fortunately, they don’t exhibit the adverse side effects of conventional methods. Immunity Therapy Center is a leader in alternative therapy and will help you in your recovery process. Contact us to schedule a consultation today for natural lymphoma treatment.
Written By: Dr. Pablo Orozco
Dr. Pablo Orozco is a Board Certified Medical Doctor from Universidad Autónoma de Baja California.
Dr. Orozco has been a treating physician at the Immunity Therapy Center for more than 3 years, providing daily on-site patient care. He works with patients on a daily basis and guides them through the treatment process. Dr. Orozco’s passion for Alternative Cancer Treatments, along with his commitment to patient care, is key to ensuring that our patients have the best experience and results possible.
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.