Lymphoma is cancer occurring in the lymphatic system. The condition occurs when the white blood cells are affected by the lymphatic cells as a result of which the entire lymph nodes get replaced by follicular lymphoma. Since lymphoma is present in the very blood stream, it has higher chances of spreading to other parts of the body or metastasizing. Lymphoma has treatments. Although it can affect people of all ages, it is most common in children and young adults between the ages of 15 to 24 years old.
Symptoms of lymphoma include the following:
- Persistent fever without any infection
- Fever combined with night sweats and chills
- Loss of appetite and weight
- Constant itchiness
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Pain in the lymph nodes in case of drinking alcohol
- Swollen abdomen combined with pain
- Persistent coughing
- Shortness of breath
The exact causes of lymphoma are not known, but there are several factors that can be linked to the development and spreading of the condition which is mentioned below. The causes and risk factors could be different on whether it is the Hodgkin lymphoma or the non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
People between the age of 20 to 30 years and those above the age of 55 years have greater chances of developing the Hodgkin lymphoma. It is also slightly more common in men as compared to the women. The chances also increase if a person has a sibling or a twin who is affected by the same. Then there are also other conditions such as infectious mononucleosis and HIV infection that can lower the body’s immunity thus making it more susceptible to lymphoma. Statistics show that lifestyle could also be a triggering factor. It has been observed that people from higher socioeconomic status face greater risks as compared to others.
The non-Hodgkin lymphoma is more prevalent in people above 60 years of age. It is also more common among the women. Weak immunity due to medications taken during and after breast implants, organ transplant, HIV AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease can cause lymphoma. Certain viral and bacterial infections that cause glandular fever increase the chances of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Other factors that trigger lymphoma include increased exposure to chemicals and radiation, obesity and improper diet.
One of the major consequences of lymphoma is that it comes with so many symptoms that it can easily lead to misdiagnosis. Although the earliest signs are similar to viral diseases like the common cold, the symptoms stay for a long period of time. The condition also causes swelling of lymph nodes that are present all around the body like neck, armpits, abdomen, and groin. Although the swelling is usually painless, it can result in chronic pain, especially if the condition gets severe. This will leave the affected person susceptible to pain and swelling every time there is an infection resulting from viral diseases like cold.
Since lymphoma can rapidly spread to other parts of the body, the overall immunity can come down drastically. This rapid spreading of the cancerous cells can cause pain, weakness, altered sensation and sometimes even paralysis, especially if the enlarged lymph nodes apply stress on the spinal nerves.
The treatment for lymphoma depends on the stage it has reached. A biopsy is conducted for studying the infected tissues. Treatment could include surgery to remove the infected tissues and organs, injection of steroids, administration of synthetic antibodies into the bloodstream and biologic therapy through the introduction of live organisms into the body to brace the immune system. If the lymphoma has matured, radio immunotherapy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy are used followed by stem cell transplantation.