Non Hodgkins Lymphoma
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma refers to a cancer originating in the lymphatic system. This type of cancer creates 30 different forms of itself while also attacking in 30 equally-diverse ways. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is more almost ten times more common than its counterpart, Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This is because the latter is a more specific type of cancer than the former. Since 1970, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has been considered to have the fastest increase rate among all cancers. Fortunately, survival rate has also increased with it manly because of technology or diligence of several doctors.
It is only when the disease has already progressed do the symptoms appear for the first time. That is when the importance of early diagnosis of the disease should enter the fray. Clinical manifestations of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are lymph node pain and swelling particularly on the armpit, groin, and neck. As time goes by, other symptoms including fever, significant weight loss, abdominal pain and swelling, easy fatigability and night sweats will become evident. This is an indication that the disease has progressed into a much higher level of severity.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the result of the abnormal and out of control rate of while blood cell reproduction.
Normally, lymphocyte white blood cells undergo a specific brief life cycle - thus making their life span a very short one. They perform their function and die after a short amount of time. This is when they will be physiologically replaced with other white blood cells. During Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, there is an overcrowding of white blood cells in the body since new white blood cells will not wait for a proper amount of time to replace the dead cells. This will then lead to the formation of cancerous tissue and tumor growths.
Predisposing And Precipitating Factors
One common risk factor for Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is age. Statistics show that most diagnosed patients are 60 years of age or older. Immunosuppression can also be considered a risk factor since cancers tend to affect people who have poorer body defenses to disease. Some notable immunosuppressed individuals include HIV positive patients and those who have recently undergone organ donation or transplant. Also, frequent exposure to chemicals can increase one’s risk for Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma since chemicals have a tendency to kill a significant amount of healthy cells in the body.
The following are the diagnostic procedures performed to confirm the presence of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They are arranged in chronological order:
- Physical Examination - the use of visualization and palpation will help detect the suspected swollen lymph nodes.
- Blood Chemistry - help know if there is infection, an indication of lymph node swelling.
- Urine Analysis - has the same purpose with blood tests.
- Imaging Studies (X-Ray, CT Scan, MRI, and PET Scan) - gives a more in-depth visualization of the tumor or cancerous cells. Commonly done when there are no noted signs of infection.
- Lymph Node Biopsy - done to distinguish whether the tumor is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
- Bone Marrow Aspiration Biopsy - confirmatory test to determine if the cancer has metastasized or has the potential to spread rapidly.
Most treatment options mentioned above have their own share of adverse effects to the body. It is important for a team of physicians to closely monitor the patient’s condition to prevent any complications from happening.
How aggressively or passively the treatment approach should be will largely depend on the patient’s condition. During the process of diagnosing the disease, the doctors will already have a clue or a good understanding of the patient’s chances of survival. There are also times that Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is not immediately treated - particularly when there is slow tumor growth and the disease is not becoming a disruption to the patient’s daily activities. Sometimes, it may take more than a year before even the slightest methods of treatment are implemented.
Finally, it is important for any Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patient to have a strong support system that will be with his/her side during treatment and recovery. Eating a healthy and balanced diet is also a terrific preventive measure.
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