Hematology Lymphoma Leukemia/Multiple Myeloma
About half of the blood cancers that occur each year are lymphomas or cancers of the lymphatic system. This system – composed of lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, groin, chest, and abdomen – removes excess fluids from your body and produces immune cells. Abnormal lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that fights infection, become lymphoma cells, which multiply and collect in your lymph nodes. Over time, these cancerous cells impair your immune system.
Lymphomas are divided into two categories: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. About 12 percent of people with lymphoma have Hodgkin lymphoma. Because of breakthrough research, this once fatal diagnosis has been transformed into a curable condition. Most non-Hodgkin lymphomas are B-cell lymphomas, and either grow quickly (high-grade) or slowly (low-grade). There are over a dozen types of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas. The rest are T-cell lymphomas, named after a different cancerous white blood cell, or lymphocyte.
Am I at Risk?
The exact causes of lymphoma remain unknown; however, the following factors increase your risk of developing the disease:
- Older age
- Having an autoimmune disease
- Diet high in meats and fat
- Being exposed to certain pesticides
Symptoms of lymphoma include the following:
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin
- Weakness and fatigue
- Weight loss
- Difficulty breathing or chest pain
- Itchy skin
How is Lymphoma Treated?
Your doctor will perform a lymph node biopsy to diagnose lymphoma. Additional tests are then conducted to determine the stage (extent) of the lymphoma including blood tests, bone marrow biopsies, and imaging tests, such as a CT scan or PET scan. Imaging tests show whether the lymphoma has spread to other parts of your body, like the spleen and lungs. Decisions about treatment are then determined by your doctor, who will consider your age, general health, and stage and type of lymphoma. Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the most curable types of cancer.