Our immune system works in dynamic ways and they protect our body against infections, confers immunity from foreign substances which may expose us to further infections.
What is lymphoma? It is a type of cancer (a sub-type of leukemia) that attacks lymphocytes (one of the first line defense mechanisms of the body) within the lymph nodes and the lymphatic system. Lymphomas are of two types- hodgkin’s (about 10% of all lymphoma cases with B lymphocytes mainly affected) and non-hodgkin’s lymphoma (about 90% of all lymphoma cases with T and B-cells mainly affected) each with characteristic lymphoma symptoms and signs of lymphoma such as formation of solid tumor in the lymphocytes which enlarges the lymph nodes in the groin, neck, armpits regions of the body.
According to several studies and statistics, lymphomas affect people of all ages. It can be treated with good prognosis if detected early and treatments starts immediately.
1. There are about 761,659 people living with or in remission from lymphoma in the United States, and about 79,990 new cases diagnosed yearly.
2. It affects men more than women.
3. Lymphoma is the commonest form of blood cancer in the first world countries.
Symptoms of lymphoma
Lymphoma symptoms are very similar to those of leukemia in that they affect lymphocytes. Lymphoma symptoms in women are similar to lymphoma symptoms in men, except some few other symptoms that affect men in a way that it doesn’t women.
The following are general lymphoma symptoms:
1. Unexplained weight loss
This is common in both adults and children that grow limp and lose weight regularly without any apparent reason(s).
2. Night sweats
Profuse sweating at night is one of the first signs of lymphoma to look out for. This may often be a sign of kidney failure or spread of the cancer to the kidney.
3. Frequent fatigue
This is very common with most disease of the blood and lymphomas are not an exception especially as oxygen transport and glucose metabolism is severe impacted.
4. Severe itching
This is caused by secretions of malformed and malfunctioning lymphatic cells into the skin. It is always one of the first line symptoms of lymphoma.
5. Chest pain and or low back pain
Fluid buildup within the pleural cavity may cause pressure within the chest which results in chest pain, this may also result in shortness of breath and pain on exertion.
6. Fevers and frequent chills
Occasional high body temperatures accompanied by chills is often a sign of serious health conditions.
7. Abdominal cramps and bloating
Lymphoma may lead to bile duct blockage which may lead to fluid buildup within the gastric cavity. This may impact digestion of foods, gases may be produced which causes bloating.
8. Aggregation of fluid in the legs and ankles
This is a symptom of several other disorders however; liver damage due to pressure buildup may result in fluid building up within the lymphatic vessels in the body.
9. Enlarged tonsils
Increase in the number of white blood cells, persistent enlargement of tonsils and lymph nodes are all characteristic of lymphomas.
10. Altered pain sensation in the body
When blood cancer spreads to the brain as a secondary site, it may lead to the death of neurons which relays pain sensation within the body. This is a sign of complications.
Lymphomas are very aggressive and may be diagnosed through lymph node biopsy, flow cytometry and fluorescence in situ hybridization may also be used to determine the stage, type of lymphoma, its origin, lymphocytic cell affected (whether T-cell or B-cell).