Lymphoma begins in the lymphocytes, which are the germ-fighting cells of the immune system that prevent infection. These cells can be found in numerous places throughout the body, including the lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow and thymus.
Lymphoma Diagnosis at Inspira
The two main subtypes of lymphoma are called Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Both types cause the cells in the lymphatic system to abnormally reproduce, which can then form tumors in lymph nodes or other parts of the body, sometimes spreading to other organs.
If you have enlarged lymph nodes that are not caused by a common infection or that do not return to a normal size after a couple of weeks, your doctor may recommend a biopsy of a lymph node to check for lymphoma cells. It is important to note that lymphoma can be present in the body for months or years before a person shows any signs or symptoms of the disease.
Blood tests may also give your doctor clues about a possible diagnosis. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may remove a sample of your bone marrow for further testing. Imaging tests are also effective when it comes to identifying signs of lymphoma in your system. Tests may include PET scans, CT scans or MRI. [all linked]
People at higher risk of contracting lymphoma should be sure to see their doctor on a regular basis. Those at outsized risk include individuals that have or have had HIV, hepatitis C, autoimmune disease or prior cancer treatment.
Symptoms of Lymphoma
The symptoms for Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are very similar. Each individual will experience symptoms differently, but these are the most common signs of the disease:
- Swelling of the lymph nodes in the underarm region, neck and/or groin
- Night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
- Itching of the skin
- Cough or shortness of breath
Our Approach to Lymphoma Treatment
Treatment for lymphoma will vary depending on the stage and type of lymphoma as well as your overall health. In some cases, your doctor may choose to tackle treatment with traditional medications such as chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Targeted drugs and immunotherapy may also be successful in treating lymphoma.
A bone marrow transplant, also known as a stem cell transplant, is another form of treatment that involves using heavy doses of chemotherapy and radiation to suppress your bone marrow. Healthy bone marrow stem cells from your own body or from a donor are then infused into your blood, traveling to your bones and replenishing your bone marrow.