Lymphoma is a cancer that affects the body’s lymphatic system.  Within this system are the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus gland, and bone marrow. These different tissues contain several types of lymphocyte cells, which are designed to fight off infection. Lymphoma is defined as the irregular and often aggressive growth of these cells. There are two main types of Lymphoma are Hodgkin’s and non-Hopkins, with the latter being more common.

 

Lymphoma is considered fairly rare, with only about 200,000 new cases reported annually in the US.  It is considered treatable, but this may depend on the type and stage of the cancer.  In any case, it helps to be educated on exactly what lymphoma is.

 

Here is what else you should know:

Who Gets Lymphoma?

Men are more likely than women to develop Lymphoma. It is more prevalent in white people than in black people and seems to generally occur as people get older.

 

Hodgkin's Lymphoma tends to attack younger adults from about 15 to 39 years old. However, it also affects those who are 75 and older.

 

While anyone can get lymphoma, some more common risk factors include:

 

  • Those with a family history of the disease may be at a greater risk of developing it.
  • Certain Drugs And Chemicals. Those who have undergone certain chemotherapy treatments in the past may be at a heightened risk for lymphoma. That said, there is still not substantial evidence to prove this for sure.
  • Radiation Exposure.
  • Obesity or Overweight. Again, evidence is still limited. That said, trying to maintain a healthy weight or to lose weight if you are overweight or obese may help reduce your risk of lymphoma.

Diagnosing Lymphoma

During a general physical exam, it is common for a doctor to check your lymph nodes for swelling.   A blood test that includes a cell count is another routine way to detect potential problems.

 

Digital scanning may be ordered to get a better look at potential problems.  This can be a CT, PET, or MRI test. Finally, your doctor may order a biopsy procedure, which will include removing a sample of bone marrow to be tested for any abnormalities.

 

 

Treating Lymphoma

A physician may simply advise just keeping a watch on very slow growing forms of Lymphoma, especially in elderly patients. In other cases, you may require more extensive treatment.

 

Drugs that kill off cancerous cells fall into the chemotherapy group.  They are often administered through injections or taken as pills.  Focused forms of radiation, such as x-rays or protons, can be used to directly target and kill cancer.

 

Chemotherapy and radiation are often used  in conjunction with bone marrow transplants to treat lymphoma.  Drugs or focused energy can be used to halt unhealthy cancer cell growth.  At the same time, healthy stem cells are introduced into the bone marrow through the bloodstream.

 

Beyond this, there are new treatments being developed all the time.  Ask your doctor what is available.

 

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