Lymphomas are cancers that originate from the cells of the lymphatic system. These are of two main types - Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin.

The lymphatic system supports the immune system and helps it fight diseases and infections. The front lines against infections are usually the lymph nodes. They form white blood cells or lymphocytes that divide and defend the body against infections. Lymphocytes are further divided into T-cells that recognise and destroy infected cells and B-cells that form antibodies.

Lymphomas occur when one of the WBC’s converts into rapidly dividing malignant cells that don’t die. These malignant cells can grow inside the lymph nodes, the spleen, bone marrow, or other organs.

The most common lymphoma is the adult non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Every year, approximately 3 in 100,000 adults are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. On the other hand, around 20 in 100,000 adults are diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma every year.

Each type of lymphoma affects different people:

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma affects men more than women and it is more commonly seen in late adulthood (60-80 years of age). On the other hand, Hodgkin lymphoma more commonly occurs in early adulthood (20-39 years of age) and late adulthood (more than 65 years of age). Adult Hodgkin lymphoma is more common in men than in women.

Early diagnosis and well-formulated treatment plans mean more patients are surviving with lymphoma five years after diagnosis of the disease. About 90% of patients who have Hodgkin lymphoma survive five years after diagnosis and about 70% of patients who have non-Hodgkin lymphoma survive five years post-diagnosis.

Many symptoms of lymphoma resemble those of other illnesses. Therefore, if you have these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean that you have lymphoma. However, if your symptoms last for several weeks, you must talk to a healthcare provider. Following are some of the symptoms of lymphoma:

  • Persistent fatigue
  • Painless swelling in one or more lymph nodes in the armpits, neck, or groin
  • Drenching night sweats
  • Unexplained fever
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Itchy skin

Although there is no definitive cause that gives rise to lymphomas and sometimes it's a matter of pure chance, following are some risk factors that may contribute to the formation of lymphoma:

  • Infections with viruses like Epstein-Barr virus, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, and Kaposi’s Sarcoma.
  • Family history of lymphoma.
  • If your immune system is weakened or compromised by medical treatments or illnesses like post-organ transplant.
  • If you have an autoimmune disease, that weakens your immune system.
  • Presence of certain chronic conditions.

A range of tests are used by healthcare providers to diagnose lymphoma and formulate a treatment plan. Following are some of those:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
    This test measures the level of different types of cells in your blood. CBC is used by healthcare providers to diagnose a wide range of disorders.
  • Blood chemistry test
    Through this test, the number of certain substances in the blood can be measured.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
    A series of X-rays and a computer is employed to produce a series of three-dimensional images of the bones and the soft tissues.
  • Positron emissions tomography (PET) scan
    A radioactive tracer is injected into the body by a healthcare provider. It helps diagnose early signs of cancer.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    During this test, a large magnet, a computer, and radio waves are employed to create very detailed images of the internal organs and structures.
  • Biopsy of lymph nodes or other organs
    Biopsies are performed by healthcare providers to obtain fluids, cells, growths, or tissues for examination under a microscope.
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
    A needle is inserted into the lower back by a healthcare provider to collect a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid— the clear liquid surrounding the brain and the spinal cord.
  • Bone marrow biopsy
    A needle is inserted into the breast bone or the pelvic area by a healthcare provider and a small sample of the bone marrow is removed. It is then examined under the microscope to look for signs of suspicious cells.

The treatment of lymphoma depends on its type, extent of spread, and the overall health of the patient. Following are the main treatment modalities used for lymphoma:

  • Chemotherapy
    Several types of drugs are used by healthcare providers to damage cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy
    During this therapy, strong radiation beams are employed to damage the cancer cells or prevent their growth.
  • Targeted therapy
    During this therapy, drugs or other substances are employed to destroy cancer cells without harming healthy cells.
  • Immunotherapy
    This therapy stimulates the immune system so that it can fight cancer more effectively. Treatment can increase the body’s production of cancer-fighting cells or facilitate the identification and destruction of cancer cells by healthy cells.
  • Bone marrow transplant
    Stem cells are transplanted from the bone marrow to replace the affected cells with healthy cells.

The treatment for lymphoma varies depending on the condition of the individual patient. Different patients can react differently to the same treatment. You can ask from your healthcare provider about the things you can expect during treatment, including potential side-effects. Your healthcare provider will also let you know about some ways you can manage your side effects.

The research on identification of the risk factors of lymphoma is still ongoing. Certain viruses and family medical history tends to increase the risk of developing lymphoma. If you think you have a family medical history that might increase your lymphoma risk, you can discuss the same with a healthcare provider and ask them about any steps you can take to decrease your risk. If you are located in Indore, you can visit Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Indore and consult Indore’s best oncologists for further evaluation and care.

Lymphoma is not a simple illness. But, the good news is that the treatment modalities continue to evolve and improve, giving patients a chance to live longer, more fulfilled lives. With every passing year, more people with lymphoma are able to survive five years after diagnosis. More knowledge about the risk factors of lymphoma is also coming to light.

Follow-up after Lymphoma Treatment

Lymphoma treatment can lead to certain side effects. Do not hesitate to share your symptoms or discomfort with your medical team. There are ways to relieve every symptom, so you do not need to suffer. You should speak to your cancer specialist to know if you need to make any changes to your diet to make you feel better during the treatment. Consult a dietician to guide you with the right foods to eat. Doing a little physical exercise like walking and swimming helps relieve fatigue and anxiety associated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Alternative therapies like relaxation, biofeedback, or guided imagery can also be used to relieve the pain.

We at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Indore acknowledge that cancer treatment may drastically affect patients, both physically and psychologically. Therefore, during post-treatment follow-ups, we not only aim to help the patients physically but support them emotionally as well, thus delivering the best lymphoma treatment in Indore. Common side effects such as tiredness, nausea and vomiting, neuropathy, mouth sores and depression are treated with supportive care therapies. Our team also provides psychological and mental support to patients who suffer from mental health problems post-treatment.