4 common types of lymphoma explained

4 common types of lymphoma explained

Lymphoma or Lymphatic cancer develops in the lymphatic system, the body’s defense mechanism that is a part of the overall immune network. It mainly includes the spleen, bone marrow, thymus gland, and lymph nodes spread across the body, controlling vital immunity functions. The cancer develops due to abnormal production of cells called lymphocytes, responsible for many immunities boosting functions. It could trigger one of these four common types of lymphoma.

Hodgkin Lymphoma
Hodgkin’s primarily develops in the lymphatic system network connecting vital glands, organs, and tubes crucial to immunity. The cancer develops as a result of genetic changes triggered in white blood cells called lymphocytes. A change in the cell’s DNA structure leads to mutations or uncontrolled multiplication of these white blood cells. Subsequently, the body’s immune system is unable to defend against this rapid mutation.

As a result, cancer gradually begins to spread in the lymph nodes. If the cancer metastasizes beyond the nodes, it can also spread to different body organs connected to the lymphatic system. Hodgkin’s is more commonly diagnosed among men between the ages of 15-29 or 75-79. A family history of cancer and developing a weak immune system further increases the risk. People who have previously suffered from the Epstein-Barr virus infection are also at high risk of developing this cancer.

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Non-Hodgkin’s is a more complicated form of cancer that affects the lymphatic system and is one of the most common forms of lymphoma. The exact cause is unknown, and there is no consistency among the risk factors associated with this form of cancer. Research suggests certain immune disorders, side effects of prescriptions given to manage other conditions, and lifestyle choices could affect its progression. Even flawed genetic code, ethnicity, and occupational hazards can trigger the growth of these cancerous cells along any part of the lymphatic system.

There are many subtypes of non-Hodgkin cancer with mutations triggered due to B Lymphocytes (B-cells), T Lymphocytes (T-cells), and Natural Killer (NK) Cells. These are the three significant lymphocytes responsible for various functions in the lymphatic system. For Non-Hodgkin’s, most cases diagnosed are triggered by B-cells, the primary source of antibodies produced to combat infections and boost immunity.

Lymphoma of the skin
Medically referred to as Cutaneous Lymphoma, this is a rare skin cancer affecting only six people out of a million. The cancer, mainly caused by B Cell or T Cell mutations, develops in the lymphocytes or lymph nodes in the body that are also present under the skin. In time, the uncontrolled growth of these cells under the skin will also present visible symptoms as the condition progresses. B Cell Skin cancer presents more visible raised skin growths or lesions the size of a pimple. T cell skin cancer can be diagnosed by flat patches or plaques that continue to grow in size, becoming more scalier, drier, and developing cracks in the skin. Skin lymphomas are more likely to affect older adults and people of African American ethnicity and are more likely to develop among men.

Waldenstrom’s disease
Also referred to as Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia or lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma, this condition is a rare, slow, spread form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The cancer is triggered due to an abnormal amount of lymphoplasmacytic cells produced and released into the bloodstream from the bone marrow. These cells release excess immunoglobulin that ultimately affects the viscosity of the blood, affecting circulation.

Excess production of these immunoglobulins could also increase the risk of anemia, a condition that results in low red blood cell count. Waldenstrom’s disease exhibits many symptoms, including fatigue, weakness, fever, sweats, loss of appetite, and even neuropathy that results in a tingling sensation at the feet. According to the American Cancer Society, fewer than 1,500 cases of Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia are diagnosed in the country. This statistic makes it a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Irrespective of the type of cancer, immediate medical intervention is advised if the symptoms persist or the discomforts become unbearable. An increase in frequency or intensity of known symptoms indicates that cancer has begun to progress beyond the primary affected area.

Long-term outlook for lymphoma
Several factors determine the overall outlook for Hodgkin’s or Non-Hodgkin’s subtypes. The patient’s age, stage of cancer, the extent of spread or metastasis, daily performance status of the patient, and certain blood markers affect the progression or regression. At best, a combination of prescriptions, treatments, nutrition, daily lifestyle changes, and therapies can help patients cope with symptoms. These factors also impact the overall survival rates and prognosis depending on the type and stage of cancer.

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