Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph nodes and lymphatic
system. This type of cancer starts in the lymph nodes and affects the
production and function of lymph-node blood cells, or lymphocytes that plays an
important role in the immune system. Lymphoma occurs when the lymphocytes do not
naturally die off and begin to grow and multiply uncontrollably, producing
cancerous cells that have the abnormal capacity to invade other tissues
throughout the body (MacGill, M. Medical
News Today, 2017). The two main types of lymphoma are Hodgkin lymphoma and
The main symptom of lymphoma is usually an
enlargement of lymph nodes that does not go away as it normally would after
infection (MacGill, M. Medical News
Today, 2017). The other symptoms and signs of lymphoma are chills or
temperature swings, fevers (especially at night), loss of appetite and
unexplained weight loss, excessive fatigue and lack of energy, persistent itch
all over the body without an apparent cause or rash, shortness of breath, persistent
coughing, enlarged tonsils, headache, chest pain, and swollen, painful abdomen or
abdominal discomfort, back or bone pain difficulty in shaking off infections (Lymphoma association, 2017; MacGill, M. Medical News Today, 2017; Lymphoma Canada).
Blood tests and biopsies from the affected lymph node tissue
can detect the presence of lymphoma (MacGill, M. Medical News Today, 2017). As other forms of diagnostics,
bone marrow biopsy, imaging (x-ray) tests, computerized tomography (CT) scan,
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasound scan may be used (American Cancer Society, 2016).
Treatment for lymphoma depends on the type of lymphoma, the stage it has reached,
symptoms, results of genetic tests, and patient’s state (MacGill, M. Medical News Today, 2017; Lymphoma association, 2016). Indolent,
or slow-growing lymphoma may need only “watchful waiting” and no specific treatment.
If treatment is necessary, it can involve: chemotherapy, radiation therapy, radio
immunotherapy (this delivers high-powered radioactive doses directly into the
cancerous cells to destroy them), biologic therapy (drug treatment that
stimulates the immune system to attack the cancer cells by inserting living
microorganisms into the body), antibody therapy (in which case synthetic
antibodies are inserted into the bloodstream to combat the cancer’s antigens),
stem cell transplantation, steroids, supportive care, and surgery (MacGill, M. Medical News Today, 2017; Lymphoma association, 2016). The most common
treatments for lymphoma are chemotherapy and radiation therapy.