Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma is a type of cancer that begins within immune system cells called lymphocytes. Similar to other cancers, lymphoma occurs when lymphocytes are uncontrollably growing and multiplying. These lymphocytes are white blood cells that move throughout the body with the help of a fluid called lymph. There they are transported by a network of different vessels that make up the lymphatic system, which is a part of the immune system. The main Job of the lymphatic system is to fght off infections or anything else that threatens the body.
The lymphatic system consists of different lymph nodes located hroughout the body to help monitor the lymph that flows through them. These lymph nodes can be very helpful in predicting signs of possible cancer. The nodes will begin to tenderize and swell when a large amount of microbial organisms collect insides of them, indicating infection. There are two main types of lymphocytes, B- cells, and T-cells. Both are designed to recognize and destroy infections, however, B- cells travel through the body with the infection, while T-cells kill the infection directly.
When these cells begin to multiply too quickly, they begin to build up in the lymph odes, forming a giant mass of cells called a tumor. Once this tumor forms, it begins to grow, invading the space of nearby organs and tissues, cutting off their oxygen supply. If these abnormal lymphocytes travel between lymph nodes, or to other organs, the cancer can spread and metastasize to other regions of the body, making it much more difficult to control and get rid of. Non-Hodgkins is classified and derived from either abnormal B or T-cells and has thirty different subtypes (Clarke 139).
In the United States each year, about fifty-four thousand people are diagnosed ith Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, making it the most common type of blood cancer in the U. S (Clarke 138). The symptoms of this disease may be difficult to discover, since often times they may appear suddenly and be painless. These symptoms can include swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or groin. This swelling may be painless and go unnoticed. There may also be discomfort or a fullness in the abdomen, feeling very tired or weak, shortness of breath, as well as fever and weight loss.
It is important to get these symptoms checked out and monitored by a doctor to result in etter treatment if needed. There are certain risk factors that may increase the risk of Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, such as immune system deficiencies, chemicals, and older age. Certain medications that suppress immune system efficiency, as well as organ transplants, greatly increase the risk of new disease due to immunosuppressive therapy reducing the body’s ability to fght off new diseases (Clarke 142). There are also viruses and bacteria that have been linked to the increased risk of Non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Viruses that have been linked include HIV and Epstein-Barr virus, more commonly nown as herpes. Helicobacter Pylori, an ulcer-causing bacteria found in the stomach that has also been known to increase the risk of getting lymphoma. Although, more research needs to be conducted to connect pesticides with the risk of Non-Hodgkins, certaln Insect ana weed factor that is to be considered, although people at any age can get cancer, Non- Hodgkins is most common in people sixty or older. To diagnose lymphoma, a full physical must be conducted, as well as looking into family history.
A oncologist will then be called in to review the findings and decide where to go next. When screening to find how far cancer has spread, several techniques can be used. These include x-rays, computerized tomography scans, magnetic resonance imaging, as well as lymphangiograms. Bone marrow examinations are also common to test if infected with abnormal B or T-cells. The best way to test for cancer is by conducting a biopsy and testing a small sample of the tumor to determine whether cancer exists or not.
Conducting a biopsy or fluid examination is the best way to get an in-depth look at possible cancer cells. Immunohistochemistry is a popular test used by pathologists y treating the sample with antibodies that attach only to specific molecules on the cell. Color changes among the antibodies can occur and be seen under a microscope allowing pathologists to detect different diseases present. Flow cytometry is a very similar process to immunohistochemistry, but allows a much more in-depth look at the cells by passing them through a laser.
This laser techniques provides the ability to separate and count groups of cells. Flow cytometry can also detect whether the lymph nodes are swollen due to lymphoma, or some other type of cancer, or a non- cancerous disease. This allows doctors to better determine the type of lymphoma to be dealt with as well as the best way to treat it. Another way to determine the type of lymphoma is through cytogenetics. This technique inhibits doctors to take a look at the chromosomes in the lymphoma cells to look for translocations, which is common in some types of lymphoma.
Other ways to identify the type of lymphoma is if the cells have too many, too few, or other chromosomal abnormalities. Once diagnosed, there are four stages in distinguishing the extent of the disease, starting with the least serious being stage one. Stage one, or early in the diagnosis of ymphoma is when the disease is contained to single lymph node region or in a single organ. Stage two is classified when two or more lymph node regions are infected on the same side of the diaphragm, or when a lymph node and an organ are infected.
Stage three is advanced lymphoma when two or more lymph nodes, or a lymph node and an organ infected on different sides of the body. Stage four, or the widespread level of lymphoma is when the cancer has spread to the spleen, bone marrow, bone, or central nervous system. There are different treatments based on the type, and stage of the cancer, as well s other factors such as age, and health status. The most common and effective treatment for Non-Hodgkins lymphoma is chemotherapy, radiation, and biological therapy.
Chemotherapy uses chemicals that interfere with the cellular division process, triggering a suicide effect amongst the cancer cells. These chemicals attack all of the cells, including the healthy ones, although normal cells are able to recover from the chemical-induced damage, whereas the cancer cells cannot. Chemotherapy is usually used when the cancer has metastasized, since the medicines travels hroughout the entire body, rather than focusing on one place. This treatment is done in cycles, so the body has a resting period in between to heal before the next cycle .
I nere are some sloe erects tnat come along wltn It still, tnese Include tnlngs such as hair loss, fatigue, nausea and vomiting. Although not as effective, there are also medications that can be used to boost the immune systems reaction to these infected a-cells. Rituximab is a biological medication that is a type of monoclonal antibody that attaches to B cells in order to make them more visible to the immune system to attack. This medication lowers the number of B cells, including the non- infected, healthy ones, however, the body will produce more cells, to replace these.
Once the cancerous cells are dead, they are much less likely to reoccur. Radiation treatment works to destroy cancer cells by focusing high-energy rays onto the cells. This damages the molecular structure of the cells and causes them to commit suicide. These high-energy rays are usually emitted from metals, such as radium or strong x-rays that are created by a machine. Radiation can either be used on its own or in correlation with other cancer treatments. Side effects may include skin changes often resembling a sunburn or tan, vomiting, fatigue, nausea, and loss of appetite.
The most effective treatment to increase a lymphoma patients chance for survival is the combination of the chemical R848 with radiation therapy. With the growing knowledge of genetics, doctors are able to better diagnose Non- hodgkin lymphoma through the methods mentioned previously, allowing a much better prognosis for those infected. There are also new treatments being looked into to help better treat and prevent this cancer from taking people’s lives. Vaccines are ow being introduced as a way to help treat certain cases of lymphoma.
It has been known for quite some time that people’s immune systems may help play a major role in fghting cancer, in some cases, some have been cured after their immune system rejects the cancer. With this knowledge, doctors are trying to encourage this immune reaction with a vaccine. This vaccine is used to treat, rather than prevent the disease, and is only available in clinical trials as of now. The goal of this is to create an immune reaction in patients dealing with lymphoma in either the early stages, or clients whose disease is in remission.
Along with having very little side effects, when used in clinical trials treating late-stage patients whom chemotherapy was successful, the vaccine increased the time the lymphoma came back by at least a year. Increasing one’s knowledge of signs and symptoms correlated with Non-Hodgkins can create a better prognosis of successfully killing the disease. The research of new vaccines that can help the immune system naturally kill the cells on it’s own can greatly decrease the need for other treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, along with the horrible side effects that come along with them.