Lymphoma is one specific type of cancer that involves the cells of the immune system. Specifically, it involves the lymphocytes which are a part of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a series of vessels (similar to blood vessels) that carry lymph (fluid) around the body. This lymph has lymphocytes in it which are cells responsible for killing foreign agents in the body. In other words, these are white blood cells that are one of the lines of defense in ensuring that the body is safe from invasion.
The lymph, therefore, has a lot of bacteria and other foreign agents in it because the white blood cells consumed it. This lymph moves to the lymph nodes which clean out the lymph and store the bacteria. It is because of this that a doctor might feel for one’s “lymph nodes” to check if there is an infection. If they are swollen, it means they are working.
Lymphoma is when there is a malignant cancer affecting either the T-cells or the B-cells found in the lymph. As the tumor begins to develop, it begins to steal resources from tissues around it. Because it is in the lymphatic system, the tumor can move around anywhere in the body. While it typically doesn’t pass into other tissues, it has the ability to which can cause an already serious cancer to become even more serious.
A doctor will want to do a biopsy to make sure that it is lymphoma. If it is, the doctor will determine a course of action to try and defeat it. The two main types of treatment are radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Both are very difficult on the body, but they have relatively high success rates depending on when the cancer is caught. If it is too late in the cancer’s life, treatment becomes increasingly difficult. That is why it is very important to know the symptoms to ensure that you or a doctor can catch it early on.
Symptoms of Lymphoma
The first real symptoms have to do with the lymph nodes. While lymph nodes do swell when there is an infection, very rarely is there pain. In the case of lymphoma, the lymph nodes swell and there is pain. This pain is brought on due to the tumor pressing against a nerve. However, it can also press against an artery which can do damage to that area of the body.
With the swelling of the lymph nodes, another symptom is the enlargement of the spleen. This results in a varying degree of abdominal pain. This might start as discomfort, but as it progresses, it can turn into much more pain.
Finally, there are other symptoms that most patients with lymphoma have. They are:
- Weight loss that can’t be explained
- Lack of energy
- Night Sweats
If these are symptoms that are appearing, it is imperative that a visit with the doctor is scheduled. Lymphoma can be life threatening if not handled immediately. Therefore, once these symptoms appear, see a doctor and he will begin treatment immediately.