Lymphoma: the cancer that threatens our lymphatic system

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When we think of serious diseases surely the condition that comes to mind is the one we are going to discuss today in the Best Doctors blog: lymphoma cancer.

Lymphomas are a type of cancer that is caused by the proliferation of cells of the lymphatic tissue located primarily in lymph nodes. Therefore, one of the signs of lymphoma may be the presence of enlarged lymph nodes, although lymphoid cells exist in other parts of our body as well, such as the liver, the bone marrow or the digestive system.

There are two main types of lymphoma:

Two main groups are usually identified:

–       Hodgkin’s disease, which usually involves about 20 % of cases

–       Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) are a very diverse group of diseases which is subdivided into 30 types

Hodgkin’s disease

This type of lymphoma is more common among young people (between the ages of 16 and 35 years) and people in middle and old age (from 50 to 70 years). The people who are infected by the AIDS virus (HIV) also have an increased risk of developing Hodgkin’s disease.

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL)

The most common categories of NHL, which our doctors have to fight against, are the following:

  • High-grade lymphomas which can occur in about 20 % of cases of NHL:
    •  immunoblastic lymphoma
    •  lymphoblastic lymphoma
    •  small non-cleaved cell lymphoma
  •  Low-grade lymphomas (up to 38 % of cases):
    • small cell lymphocytic lymphoma
    • follicular small cleaved cell lymphoma
    • follicular mixed small and large cell lymphoma
  • Intermediate-grade lymphomas (takes place in 40 % of cases):
    • large cell follicular large cell lymphoma
    • diffuse small cleaved cell lymphoma
    • diffuse mixed small and large cell lymphoma
    • diffuse large cell lymphoma

The importance of diagnosis

As we have seen, lymphomas may occur as lymph nodes with a size larger than normal in areas such as the patient’s neck, groin or their underarm.

There is no need to be alarmist because there are plenty of conditions that can be the cause of enlarged lymph nodes. We must not draw conclusions until a biopsy is carried out, which in these cases is the standard medical procedure.

There is also the possibility that the lymph nodes that could provide clues about the disease are not to be found in such accessible areas of our body. This situation calls for more numerous tests to be carried out in order to confirm or diagnose the cancer.

Among the tests that may be required are the following:

  • Analysis of possible abnormalities in the chromosomes of each lymphoma  
  • Study of proteins in neoplastic cells
  • Computerised Axial Tomography (CAT scan)
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR)
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
  • Scan
  • Immunophenotypic analysis to evaluate NHL cells 

At Best Doctors, we are committed to ensuring the good health of all patients, wherever they may be. That is why we offer you the best oncologists in the world so that, in cases of serious illnesses such as lymphoma, you can get a thorough review of diagnostic tests and a second expert opinion to give you the peace of mind you need to address whatever health problem.

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