Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that occurs when B or T lymphocytes, the white blood cells, multiply uncontrollably and live longer than they are supposed to. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that move throughout the body in a fluid called lymph. They are a part of the immune system and help protect the body from infection and disease. Lymphoma may develop in the lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow, blood or other organs and eventually they form a tumour. Tumours grow and invade the space of surrounding tissues and organs, depriving them of oxygen and nutrients. If abnormal lymphocytes travel from one lymph node to the next or to other organs, the cancer can spread or metastasize. Lymphoma development outside of lymphatic tissue is called extranodal disease.
The primary symptom that manifests when a patient is suffering from lymphoma is the swelling of lymph nodes. This is because the enlarged lymph nodes can encroach on the space of blood vessels, nerves, or the stomach, leading to swollen arms and legs, to tingling and numbness, or to feelings of being full, respectively. The other symptoms that a patient suffers from are; fever, night sweats, weight loss, loss of appetite, fatigue, respiratory distress and itching.
The following are some of the causes as well as the risk factors of lymphoma cancer: GENETICS One of the causes behind lymphoma cancer is the genetic predisposition to the disease that has been inherited from a family member. It is believed that one can be born with certain genetic mutations or a fault in a gene that makes one statistically more likely to develop cancer later in his life. CARCINOGENS A carcinogen is a substance or radiation that is an agent directly involved in causing cancer. This could be due to the ability to damage the genome or to the disruption of cellular metabolic processes. They are also responsible for damaging DNA, and aiding in cancer. Exposure to certain pesticides, herbicides and solvents such as benzene has been associated with lymphoma. Similarly, black hair dye has been linked to higher rates of NHL.
A lymph node biopsy is done in order to diagnose lymphoma cancer. Lymph node biopsy is a partial or total excision of a lymph node which is examined under the microscope. After lymphoma is diagnosed, a variety of tests may be carried out to look for specific features characteristic of different types of lymphoma. These include:
The classification of lymphoma has a direct effect on the treatment and the prognosis. Classification systems generally classify lymphoma according to: