What is Lymphoma?
Lymphomas are cancers of the lymphatic system where the abnormal lymphocytes or white blood cells grow in various parts of the body, including lymph nodes, liver, spleen, bone marrow, blood or other organs.
There are many different types of lymphoma. The two main categories of lymphoma are Hodgkin Lymphoma (HL) and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL). These are further subdivided into many different subtypes.
What are the Symptoms of Lymphoma ?
There are no symptoms specific to this illness. Most commonly, there may be painless swelling of lymph nodes in the neck or armpit or groin areas. Other symptoms include fever, weight loss, excessive sweating especially at night or itching.
How do we test for Lymphoma ?
A physical examination by your doctor to look for enlarged lymph nodes eg in neck, upper chest, armpit, abdomen or groin would be important.
Histological confirmation by biopsy of enlarged lymph node or sometimes bone marrow sample is required. The tissue is sent for processing and for pathologist to evaluate the cells under microscope.
Blood investigations and imaging tests (eg CT scan or PET-CT scans) to determine the extent of involvement ie. Stage, as well as to assess general health status would also be important.
How is Lymphoma Treated ?
Treatment may consist of a combination of the following modalities – chemotherapy, radiotherapy or immunotherapy (e.g. antibody therapy).
Eventual therapy required depends on various factors such as subtype of lymphoma, aggressiveness of lymphoma, stage of disease and general health of patient. Each patient is different and treatment should be tailored to the individual.
For patients with Hodgkin Lymphoma, the aim of treatment is to cure disease with least possible toxicity. Many patients with HL can be cured with treatment which may involve combination chemotherapy with radiotherapy.
For Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, therapy depends on the subtype and stage. In patients with low grade (indolent) NHL if this is early stage or limited disease, treatment may be delayed till it is more widespread or symptoms arise. For patients with aggressive and highly aggressive NHL, as these grow quickly, treatment is needed once diagnosis is confirmed.
Lymhoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. There are two main categories of lymphoma are Hodgkin Lymphoma (HL) and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) with many different subtypes. Therapy required depends on the specific subtype as well as stage of the disease.