Lymphoma is a type of cancer caused by abnormal and excessive cell proliferation of lymphatic cells, or lymphocytes, that travel through a number of vessels in the body, also known as the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is made of lymph, a fluid that carries white blood cells, or lymphocytes as part of the immune system consisted of cells known as B cells and T cells. These cells produce certain proteins that are used to kill any infections or microbial organisms by filtering themselves through organs known as lymph nodes.
Lymphoma often settles on the lymph nodes found throughout the body such as the tonsils or spleen and can often spread to one or more lymph nodes at a time and can eventually metastasize to other organs of the body.
Since lymphoma is basically the uncontrolled reproduction of cells, causing the cells to skip the process of apoptosis (the process of natural cell death), doctors and scientists do not exactly know the causes for this cancer but have diagnosed several factors that could one day lead to preventive treatment and cure. Any genetic-related causes or DNA mutation-related disorders that happen in the body, as well as exposure to certain carcinogens can damage the programmed process of natural cell death within lymphocytes. Other factors of pathogenic mutations in the lymphocytes include autoimmune diseases, such rheumatoid arthiritis, lupus or any diseases that suppress the body’s immune system such as HIV or hepatitis B or C.
Lymphoma may first be characterized by the swelling of the underarm, neck, or groin area and may include symptoms of fever, weight loss, body temperature loss, sweats and itching. Early detection is the best way to prevent early spread of the disease. An oncologist may recommend routine blood work immunological, liver and kidney markers and may add additional radiologic examination such as MRI or CT, PET scan, a lymphangiogram, or a bone marrow examination. The decisive factor will lie on a biopsy of the tumor and further pathological exams. There are only two types of lymphomas: Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and are classified according to their appearance, location, and genetic features. Lymphomas can excessively grow and can often become incurable if not detected in time.
The primary therapy for lymphoma has been radiation for most early-stage lymphomas and for second-stage treatment, chemotherapy is often recommended or in combination with stem cell transplantation or stem cell therapy. Today, advances in science have found immunotherapy being increasingly used as an alternative therapy for lymphoma by stimulating the body’s natural immunity against pathogens living in the body. These treatments are becoming increasingly preferred, since they offer an alternative to the harsh side effects of radiation and chemotherapy. Doctors often work together to decide which biological drugs or a combination of therapies to use (i.e. chemotheapy or radiation) and often show a high survival rate, making lymphoma one of the most curable cancers there is.