What Is Lymphoma?
Lymphoma is a type of cancer that forms in the lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s germ-fighting network. It includes the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus gland bone marrow.
In lymphoma, the lymphocytes are affected. The lymphocytes are a kind of white blood cell. The lymphocytes are an important part of the disease fighting mechanism of our body. They play an important role in our immune system.
What Are The Types Of Lymphoma?
There are mainly two types of lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma & Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The term Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) refers to a group of cancers of the lymphatic system.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma, also called Hodgkin’s disease, is a cancer of the lymphatic system.
What Makes You At Risk For Lymphoma?
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is caused by a change (mutation) in the DNA of a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes. The exact reason or cause of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is unknown. Most of the people diagnosed with NHL don’t get to learn what caused it.
In the case of Hodgkin lymphoma, it is caused by a change (mutation) in the DNA of a type of white blood cell called B lymphocytes. The exact reason why this happens is unknown. The DNA gives the cells a basic set of instructions, such as when to grow and reproduce. However, the following factors can increase a person’s risk of having lymphoma.
Risk factors of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Most types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma commonly occur in older people in their 60s and 70s. This is because of the genetic changes in your cells that build up throughout your life which may lead to lymphoma. However, Hodgkin lymphoma is commonly found in people aged between 15 and 40. It is
The risk of having lymphoma is slightly higher if any one of your close or blood relatives previously had lymphoma or other types of blood cancer.
Some infections can increase your chances of developing lymphoma. In fact, Lymphomas is a cancer type that is mostly associated with oncogenic viruses, such as:
- Epstein–Barr virus (EBV)
- Human T-lymphotropic virus 1 (HTLV-1)
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8)
- Hepatitis C virus (HCV)
Lowered Immune System
Having a lowered immune system means you are unable to fight any kind of infections, including the ones that can cause lymphoma. In this case, two conditions can lower your immune system and increase the risk of lymphoma.
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD)
Sometimes chemotherapy drugs used in previous cancer treatment, like blood cancers, can put you at risk of developing lymphoma.
Exposure to radiation during radiotherapy for treating other types of cancers can also increase the chances of you developing lymphoma.
A Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 30 means you are obese. This can multiply your risk of developing many types of cancer including lymphoma.
Risk Factors of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
The infection with Epstein-Barr virus is a considerable risk factor for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
As described earlier, it is a common risk factor for all lymphomas. Hodgkin’s lymphoma mostly occurs in early adulthood and later years. However, it can affect a person at any age.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is seen to be occurring more in males than in females.
Having a close family history of this type of lymphoma is a considerable risk factor too.
Weak immunity system poses a considerable threat in being affected by this disease. It is seen to be occurring more in people infected with HIV.
People taking immunosuppressants are also at higher risk for lymphomas.
Though the above mentioned are the possible risk factors for lymphoma, it is not necessary that everyone having these risk factors will develop lymphomas in their lives. Also, not having any of the risk factors does not promise that one will not suffer from them anytime.
Can Lymphoma Be Found Earlier?
Though there are no standardized screening tests for Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, we recommend you consult Dr PK Das cancer specialist, a renowned lymphoma oncologist in Delhi. Also by paying attention to its possible signs and symptoms one can primarily know if they are at risk of lymphoma.
Signs & Symptoms of Lymphoma
People with lymphoma may experience a variety of symptoms or signs, some of them are listed below:
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the abdomen, groin, neck, or underarms
- Shortness of breath
- Cough or chest discomfort
- Enlarged spleen or liver
- Fever that cannot be explained by an infection or other illness
- Weight loss with no known cause
- Severe chills night sweats, usually drenching
- Extreme fatigue (tiredness)
What Are The Treatments For Lymphoma?
According to Dr PK Das, a prominent lymphoma specialist in Delhi, all lymphoma treatments depend on the type and stage of the disease and the patient’s overall health and preferences. The treatment is aimed at destroying cancer cells from the body and eliminating it completely.
The following treatments can be used for Lymphoma:
- Radiation Therapy
- Bone Marrow Transplantation / Stem Cell Transplantation
- Chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR-T) Cells Therapy