What is Lymph Cancer (Lymphoma)?
Cancer is a public health problem that has become an epidemic and spreads rapidly all over the world. Lymphoma, as lymphoma is known in the medical literature, ranks among the first types of cancer. Lymphoma is a type of cancer that originates from the lymphatic circulatory system in the human body. The lymphatic system consists of lymph fluid containing white blood cells (WBC), lymph vessels responsible for carrying this fluid, and lymph node glands located in the lymph vessels. Thanks to the lymphatic system, the human body can fight against foreign agents. For some reasons, lymphatic system cells multiply uncontrollably. This condition causes an oncological disease defined as lymph cancer. You can read the rest of the article for detailed information about lymph cancer.
What is Lymph Cancer (Lymphoma)?
The lymphatic system consists of white blood cells, liver, thymus, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes. Lymphoma is a type of cancer that occurs as a result of the uncontrolled proliferation of malignant cells called lymphocytes in these organs and tissues or the longer survival of lymphocytes. Proliferating lymphocytes cause lymphoma cell masses to form over time. One of the most important components of the immune system are lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are located in almost every part of the human body. Cell masses formed as a result of the proliferation of lymphocytes begin to accumulate in lymph nodes and other organs of the lymphatic system, such as the liver and spleen. Therefore, although lymphoma usually occurs in the lymph nodes, it can also develop in other tissues and organs that make up the lymphatic system.
Lymph Cancer (Lymphoma) Types
Lymph cancer is divided into two subgroups: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. One of the main differences between these two types of lymphoma is the way the cancerous cells spread. In Hodgkin lymphoma, cancer cells spread regularly throughout the lymph nodes. In non-Hodgkin lymphoma, cancerous cells may spread irregularly to other areas through the bloodstream. The characteristics of Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma are as follows:
- Hodgkin lymphoma: Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer that is easier to treat among lymphoma types. Hodgkin lymphoma takes its name from Thomas Hodgkin, who first described the disease in 1832. While Hodgkin’s was initially known as a separate disease, it has been considered a type of lymphoma since it was discovered that the disease was caused by damage to the DNA structure of lymphocytes. Scientific studies show the incidence of Hodgkin lymphoma in the total population as 1%. Among lymph cancers, the incidence of Hodgkin lymphoma is around 25%-40%. Although the cause of Hodgkin lymphoma is not exactly known, it is mostly seen in individuals in the 20-30 age group. The most common symptom of this type of lymphoma is the swelling of one or more of the lymph nodes located in areas such as the neck, chest, and groin. In addition, in some cases, symptoms such as persistent fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, sweating, sudden weight loss and itching may be observed depending on the affected area. Hodgkin lymphoma is divided into two basic groups. The first of these is classical Hodgkin lymphoma, and the other is nodular lymphocyte dominant lymphoma. Knowing which of these two types of cancer is is important for the treatment protocol.
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which is caused by the uncontrolled proliferation of T cells and B cells in the body’s immune system and spread through the blood, is a DNA damage that is not congenital and develops later. It is more common in people infected with diseases that affect the immune system, such as HIV. The symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma are similar to the symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma. Enlargement of lymph nodes, high fever, sweating, weight loss, and loss of appetite may also be observed in this group of patients. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is seen in all age groups, but the probability of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in children is extremely low.
What Causes Lymph Cancer (Lymphoma)?
Although the cause of lymph cancer has not been fully proven to date, there are cases where genetic factors are effective in the formation of cancer. Scientific studies show that non-Hodgkin lymphoma is more common in people engaged in farming who use substances such as pesticides extensively. In addition, being infected with some viruses that strain the immune system can also cause this type of cancer. In addition, environmental factors such as unhealthy diet, harmful habits and stress can increase the risk of lymph cancer, as in other types of cancer.
How to Diagnose Lymph Cancer (Lymphoma)?
In cases of suspected lymphoma, first the areas where the patients’ lymph nodes are located, such as the spleen, neck, and collarbones, are examined through physical examination; Afterwards, blood samples are taken from the patients. These blood samples are examined by hematologists who specialize in blood diseases using a method called peripheral smear. Following this, doctors who are experts in the field examine the growth in the lymph nodes and the distribution of the lymph nodes by using advanced imaging techniques. Imaging methods such as chest x-ray, computed tomography, magnetic resonance and positron emission tomography are commonly used in the diagnosis of lymphoma. Thanks to these imaging methods, it can be determined whether there is involvement in organs such as the liver and lungs as well as lymph nodes. Following the imaging, a biopsy is taken from the enlarged lymph node. Removing the lymph node and taking a biopsy is very important in the diagnosis phase. Thanks to the biopsy process, it is understood which type of lymph cancer the patient has. The most important reason for this is that the treatment applied to Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymph cancer types is different from each other. Another method used in the diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma is the immunophenotyping method. Immunophenotyping is a very effective diagnostic method in the differential diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma. In addition, in patients diagnosed with lymphoma, a bone marrow biopsy may be taken to determine the stage of the disease.
Treatment Methods of Lymph Cancer (Lymphoma)
In the treatment of lymphoma (lymphoma), the type and stage of the disease are important. Treatment planning is made in accordance with the type of disease as well as its stage. With correct diagnosis and treatment, the recovery rate for Hodgkin lymphoma is extremely high. In cases of non-advanced Hodgkin lymphoma, radiotherapy treatment is first applied to the area affected by the cancer. In addition, radiation therapy alone may be sufficient in nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma, which is a very slowly progressing type of Hodgkin lymphoma. In more advanced cases or other types of lymphomas, radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment are applied together. In other words, a combined treatment program is used at this stage of Hodgkin lymphoma treatment. While radiation therapy targets the larger cancerous tissue, chemotherapy aims to destroy cancerous tissues in other areas. The types of chemotherapy used in Hodgkin lymphoma vary depending on the stage and subtype of the disease. In addition, some patients may need bone marrow transplantation. In this case, before stem cell transplantation, patients may be given high doses of chemotherapy to kill existing cancerous tissues.
In the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the primary aim is to destroy as many cancerous cells as possible through chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Bone marrow transplantation may be necessary in non-Hodgkin lymphoma, as in Hodgkin lymphoma. In addition, immunotherapy treatment that directly targets the cancerous cell can be used in the treatment of both Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Early and accurate diagnosis significantly affects the chance of success in the treatment of oncological diseases. For a healthy life, do not forget to go to the nearest health institution and have your check-ups.