There are several risk factors associated with an increased likelihood of developing lymphoma including age, gender, environmental factors and family history.
Lymphoma is a type of cancer that originates in the lymphatic system, which is a vital part of the body’s immune system. The lymphatic system includes lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels, and various organs like the spleen, thymus, and tonsils. It plays a crucial role in filtering and transporting lymph, a clear fluid holding white blood cells, throughout the body.
Lymphoma occurs when there is an abnormal growth of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, within the lymphatic system. These abnormal lymphocytes can form tumours in lymph nodes or other lymphatic tissues, disrupting the normal functioning of the immune system.
Let us look at five basic facts about Lymphoma:
#1 Types of Lymphoma
There are two main categories of lymphoma:
Named after Dr. Thomas Hodgkin, this type is characterized by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells, large abnormal cells that are specific to this subtype. HL usually starts in a single lymph node and can spread to adjacent lymph nodes. It accounts for a minority of lymphoma cases.
This is a more common and diverse group of lymphomas. There are many subtypes of NHL, each originating from different types of lymphocytes. NHL can arise in lymph nodes or other lymphatic tissues and has a wider range of behaviour and treatment approaches than HL
#2 Symptoms of Lymphoma
Common symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, fever, night sweats, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and itching. Symptoms vary depending on the type and stage of lymphoma. Diagnosis of lymphoma involves physical exams, imaging tests (CT, PET scans), and biopsies of affected lymph nodes or tissues to figure out the type and extent of lymphoma.
#3 Lymphoma Treatment
Treatment options for lymphoma depend on the specific type, stage, and individual factors of the disease. Common approaches include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and stem cell transplantation.
A combination of these approaches may be used for the best possible outcome, often in coordination with a multidisciplinary medical team.
#4 Risk Factors for Lymphoma
There are several risk factors associated with an increased likelihood of developing lymphoma:
Age: Lymphoma can occur at any age, but the risk increases with age. Certain subtypes, like Hodgkin lymphoma, have a higher incidence among young adults, while non-Hodgkin lymphoma becomes more common as people get older.
Gender: Some lymphoma subtypes show a slight gender predisposition. For example, Hodgkin lymphoma is slightly more common in males, while certain non-Hodgkin lymphomas may have a higher incidence in females.
Weakened Immune System: People with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, organ transplant recipients, and individuals on immunosuppressive drugs, have an elevated risk of lymphoma.
Infections: Certain infections are associated with an increased risk of lymphoma. For instance, the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is linked to Hodgkin lymphoma and some non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Helicobacter pylori infection is associated with a type of stomach lymphoma (MALT lymphoma).
Family History: Having a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, child) with lymphoma may increase the risk, although the overall familial risk is still relatively low.
Environmental Factors: Exposure to certain chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides has been suggested as a potential risk factor, particularly in certain subtypes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
#5 Survival Rate
Hodgkin lymphoma has high cure rates, even in advanced stages. For early-stage Hodgkin lymphoma, the five-year survival rate can be around 90% or higher. For more advanced stages, it can range from 80% to 90% or lower.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a diverse group of diseases, and survival rates vary widely depending on the subtype. Some slow growing (indolent) subtypes have higher survival rates, with some patients living many years with the disease. Aggressive subtypes may have lower survival rates, particularly if diagnosed at an advanced stage.
Here are ten lesser-known facts about Lymphoma.
PROF. CONSULTANT – MEDICAL ONCOLOGIST
MBBS., MD (INTERNAL MEDICINE)., DM (MEDICAL ONCOLOGY).