What is Lymphoma? Learn on World Lymphoma Awareness Day
On September 15th, people around the world are encouraged to learn what is lymphoma, the importance of diagnosis, and the treatment that is available. Created in 2002, World Lymphoma Awareness Day is just one day to learn about this serious disease.
While new drugs are available as part of targeted treatment for this cancer, it can be a serious health challenge for patients. They must often fight fatigue and other side effects to treatment, which can often start late since so few people know to even ask their doctors about it. The more you know about lymphoma, the earlier it can be detected and the faster you can feel better.
What is Lymphoma?
Lymphoma is a type of cancer that starts in cells known as lymphocytes. These cells, which are designed to fight infection, are located through the body in places like the lymph nodes, in bone marrow, spleen, and the thymus.
When these cells start mutating and growing out of control, you will be diagnosed with either Non-Hodgkin or Hodgkin lymphoma. The type depends on the type of lymphocyte cells that are affected.
It is unknown what causes this disease to occur, although risk factors include:
- Being at least 60 years old (for non-Hodgkin) or between 15 and 39 or over 75 (for Hodgkin)
- Having a weakened immune system due to HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, Epstein-Barr, or other condition
- Having a close relative with a diagnosis
- Receiving radiation for cancer treatment
How is Lymphoma Diagnosed?
The warning signs of lymphoma look like symptoms of many other conditions, so it can be challenging to diagnosis. Symptoms include:
- Swollen lymph nodes, or the area around your armpit or groin
- Shortness of breath
- Fever and/or night sweats
- Weight loss
- Feeling of itchiness
For a proper diagnosis, your doctor will likely perform a physical examination before possibly requesting a lymph node biopsy to check for cancer cells. You might also receive a chest X-ray, MRI, or PET scan to use imaging to better detect for these cells.
What is the Treatment for Lymphoma?
The treatment for lymphatic cancer will depend on what specific kind of lymphoma you have and the stage at which you were first diagnosed. Treatments can include:
- Radiation therapy
- Stem cell transplants
- Diet and lifestyle changes, including non-impact exercise and biofeedback techniques to alleviate pain.
Lymphoma can be a deadly cancer if not treated, so ask questions of your doctor if you or a loved one have received a diagnosis. Organizations like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society can help you find support groups to help emotionally during this challenging time. They offer online chats along with one-on-one specialists to help with additional concerns.
Lymphoma patients will likely require drug prescriptions to help address symptoms. To get a discount on your prescription, log on to rxless and search for either a generic or brand name pharmaceutical. It's a free service, and there's no need to create an account to benefit.