According to a leading Malaysian specialist medical cancer center, the 4th most common cancer among Malaysian men and the 7th most common cancer among Malaysian women is Lymphoma cancer.

The Lymph system

The Lymph system is an important body system. It is a system made up of lymph nodes and vessels. These nodes and vessels carry lymph fluids around the body.

Lymph fluids contain white blood cells which fight against infections.

Lymph nodes capture and destroy viruses and bacteria, so they function as filters, and their job prevents an infection from spreading further.

The lymph system therefore, essentially protects the body. However here is where it gets rather complicated. The lymph cells, lymphocytes, can become cancerous. Lymphomas are cancers that occur in the lymph system.

There are more than 70 types of lymphomas which can affect any part of the lymphatic system, areas which include:

  • bone marrow
  • lymph nodes
  • spleen
  • thymus
  • tonsils

Lymphoma cancer is divided into two main categories:

  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma – typically begins in the upper body, e.g., the neck, chest or armpits. Hodgkin’s can be detected and diagnosed in the early stages, making it one of the most treatable cancers.
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) – begins in lymph nodes anywhere in the body. It is often not diagnosed until it is in an advanced stage.

The main difference between Hodgkin’s and NHL is the type of lymphocyte that is present. A lab can detect Hodgkin’s as Reed-Sternberg cells will be present. NHL does not have Reed-Sternberg cells.

Lymphoma cancer symptoms

Early stages of Lymphoma do not always display symptoms. Sometimes a routine physical check-up may show enlarged lymph nodes. These nodes may feel like small bumps under the skin primarily in the following areas of the lymph system:

  • armpits
  • groin
  • neck
  • stomach
  • upper chest

Early stages of Lymphoma cancer have no specific symptoms, making it easy to overlook and detect. These early symptoms may include:

  • bone pain
  • breathing difficulty
  • cough
  • enlarged spleen
  • fever
  • night sweats
  • rash that becomes itchy, sometimes found in skin folds
  • stomach pain
  • pain when consuming alcohol
  • tiredness
  • unexplained weight loss

Causes of Lymphoma cancer

uncontrolled cell growth is the main culprit for cancer. A cell has a short lifespan after which it dies off. In Lymphoma cancer, the cancerous cells do not die; they multiply rapidly and spread.

Risk factors for Lymphoma cancer

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

  • age – most cases are detected in people aged 20 – 30 and over 55.
  • family history,
  • sex – men are more likely to develop lymphoma
  • weak immune system

NHL

  • age – NHL is common in people over 60, but can affect children and infants
  • autoimmune diseases, e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease
  • Chemical and radiation exposure
  • Obesity
  • People suffering from Leukemia, Hepatitis C or EBV
  • sex – women are more likely to develop certain NHL types and men can develop certain types of NHL.
  • weak immune system

Lymphoma diagnosis

A hematopathologist will perform a biopsy  and will examine the cells to determine the presence of either Hodgkin’s or NHL cells.

Your doctor will suggest further action needed once the results of the biopsy and type of Lymphoma cancer are determined.

Survival rate for Lymphoma

Survival rates for both Hodgkin’s and NHL depend on how far the cancerous cells have spread in the individual.

Today’s article is a general overview on Lymphoma cancer, which is not be taken as medical advice. As usual, readers are advised to consult their doctor for detailed information on all medical conditions.

By Aaron
7th October 2020 22:30

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