What is a lymphoma?

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Lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects lymphocytes.  Lymphocytes may either be B cells or T cells and are part of the body’s white blood cells which are designed for providing immunity from disease and possible infection.  Whenever B or T lymphocytes undergo abnormalities in terms of growth and development, it will cause lymph nodes to grow bigger than usual and form into cancerous tumors.  With the body’s lymphatic system spread throughout the body, abnormalities in lymphocytes producing lymphoma may occur in several parts.

The two main types of lymphoma are Hodgkin’s lymphoma or HL and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or HDL.  Both may present with similar symptoms with the difference apparent only when the affected cells are studied microscopically.  In terms of causes, family history, exposure to carcinogens, and other medical factors are usually the factors that lead to the abnormal lymphatic cell growth and development.  If a person is born from a family with history of lymphoma, he/she is technically predisposed to developing the same cancerous medical condition.  Exposure to certain toxic substances may also lead some people to develop lymphoma. There are also cases wherein the lymphoma is caused by unexplained mutations in people’s cells or DNA.

Most people experience swelling in their lymph nodes before they get diagnosed to have lymphoma.  Tumors in the lymphatic system are considered the main symptom of lymphoma along with possible fever, frequent night sweating, and drastic weight loss.  With loss of appetite among many patients with this cancer, weight loss is almost always expected for many patients.  Many patients also report that they get easily fatigued or have breathing difficulties. Diagnosis is typically done through biopsy and treatment options depend on the stage of the disease.  Minor or low-grade cases may warrant chemo or radiotherapy. Advanced cases meanwhile may also require more aggressive drugs and therapies.

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