Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. A lymph node system consists of lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, groin, chest, and abdomen. These nodes remove excess fluid from your body and produce immune cells. They are part of the body's defence system against germs. An abnormal white blood cell can develop into lymphoma. In your lymph nodes, these lymphoma cells will multiply and accumulate. Eventually, these cancerous cells will disrupt your immune system.
There are two broad categories of lymphomas based on the appearance of their cancerous (malignant) cells:+
The lymphatic system is responsible for both types of development. However, it is imperative to note that they affect the body differently, spread differently, and respond differently to a treatment.
Depending on the type of cell affected, the level of maturity reached by the cells, their appearance under a microscope, or how they grow, Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas are further divided into subtypes. It is sometimes helpful for doctors to determine which treatment is likely to be effective based on the subtype.
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is named after Thomas Hodgkin, an English scholar and physician who described it in 1832. It is more common in older children and teenagers. Children younger than five years old are unlikely to suffer from this condition. An organ or lymph node affected by this type of lymphoma contains specific malignant cells known as Reed-Sternberg cells.
The term refers to all other types of lymphoma. As a child grows into adolescence, the incidence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma increases. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is characterised by the malignant growth of lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell found in the lymph nodes). There is also malignant growth of lymphocytes in one form of leukaemia (acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, or ALL), which can make separating lymphoma from leukaemia difficult. Leukaemia is generally associated with extensive involvement of the bone marrow, whereas lymphoma has mild or no involvement.
Several factors may increase your risk of developing lymphoma:
Young adults are more likely to be diagnosed with certain types of lymphoma, whereas older adults are more likely to be diagnosed with others.
Lymphoma is slightly more common in men than in women.
People with immune system diseases or who take drugs that suppress their immune system are more likely to develop lymphoma.
A lymph node biopsy is required to diagnose lymphoma. Blood tests, bone marrow biopsies, CT scans, and PET scans can also be used to determine the lymphoma stage. Using imaging tests such as PET scans and CT scans, we can determine whether lymphoma has spread to other parts of the body.
Consult your physician if you suspect you may have lymphoma or are at risk of developing it. A haematologist, a doctor specialising in blood conditions, may be referred to you based on your physical condition, genetics, and medical history.
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