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Knowing Your Cancer, How Lymphoma Spreads

These are some facts according to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: 19.5 out of every 100,000 people in the world develop Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma while 2.8 out of every 100,000 people in the world are diagnosed with Hodgkins disease. Hodgkins disease and Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma are two of the main classifications of lymphoma, a cancer of the bodys lymph system. The lymph system, being part of our immune system, is tasked to eliminate bacteria, diseases and infection from our body. But when the cells multiply abnormally, tumors begin to appear in the lymph nodes. You can feel these as lumps in the nodes of the neck, armpit and groin. Soon the cancer cells will spread in other parts of the body, how lymphoma spreads is a good thing to know.

Metastasis. This is a word we often hear in cancer patients. This is actually a term which refers to the spreading of cancer to the rest of the body. Lymphoma at first is a single tumor in one of the many lymph nodes of the body. What happens when the cancer cells undergo metastasis is that cancer-infected cells break away from the main tumor and moves to another part of the body. The cancer cells use the bloodstream to move from one area of the body to another. The cancer cell can attach itself to another lymph node or to other organs of the body. When it fastened firmly, the cells reproduce again until it creates another mass of tissue to form as a tumor. Then the whole process repeats itself.

For lymphoma, the cancer cells use the lymphatic system of the body to spread. The lymphatic system of the body is pretty much like the bloodstream, it is spread although out the body since it is responsible for keeping the body clean from infections and diseases. The lymphatic system is an open canal where cancer cells can travel and create more tumors.

The tumors are pretty deadly. Because of the accelerated rate of growth, these cancer cells can continue to make the tumors grow. Soon enough the tumors grow large enough that the healthy tissues or organs are prevented to function normally. Eventually the healthy tissues or organs will stop functioning which spells death to the person.

Like any cancer, lymphoma has also a number of stages. These stages describe the severity of the condition and indicate how far the cancer cells have infected the body. Stage I is the first stage of the cancer. At this level, the cancer cells have only infected one lymph node or one part of the body. Because it is still developing, this stage is also referred to as the early disease.

The second stage or Stage II is far more alarming. At this point the cancer cells have metastasis and have infected another one or even more lymph nodes or parts of the body. However, at Stage II the infection is limited to either above or below the persons diaphragm. This stage is called locally advanced disease.

Stage III is known as the advanced disease. The cancer cells at this stage have found its way on both sides of the diaphragm and have established a number of tumors in those areas. The final stage or Stage IV or widespread disease is described by spread of the cancer cells to one or more of the bodys organs such as the bone, skin, liver or lungs.

This is how lymphoma spreads. That is why it is important for an early detection of the disease for proper and effective treatment.


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Knowing Your Cancer, Hodgkins disease

Hodgkin’s lymphoma or otherwise known as Hodgkin’s disease is one of two kinds of lymphoma or a cancer of the lymphatic system. Thomas Hodgkin was the first person who published documented studies of the disease hence the cancer was named after him. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is different from the other kind of lymphoma mainly through the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells in the cancer cells. These Reed-Sternberg cells can be seen through an open biopsy. In contrast, cells seen on non-Hodgkins lymphomas are mutated B-cells or T-cells.

It has been observed that Hodgkins lymphoma oftentimes begin to develop in the lymph nodes in the neck. This is again quite different from non-Hodgkins lymphoma which beings in different locations in the body. Nonetheless, since this is cancer were talking about, from the neck lymph node spreading to other lymph node groups, the lungs, spleen, and bone marrow is only natural and inevitable if no treatment is undergone. It seems also that Hodgkin’s lymphoma targets the immediate nearby lymphatic regions before leaving eventually the lymphatic system and spreading throughout other organs of the body.

According to studies, Hodgkins lymphoma is more likely to develop in young adolescents particularly those within the age range of 15 to 24 as well as those who are more than 60 years old. Again this is quite different from non-Hodgkins lymphoma which rarely happens in young people and instead is more common to people aged 60 years old and above.

In determining a diagnosis, one can actually self-diagnose at least initially. A doctors expertise is still needed, of course, for a more accurate diagnosis of the disease. The symptoms that have been reported are not that different from the other kinds of lymphoma. The presence of a painless lump in the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin, recurrent fevers, unexplained weight loss, night sweats and itchy skins are among the warning signals of developing lymphoma.

Among the usual tests your doctors would require you to undertake includes blood tests to check abnormalities in the blood counts, blood chemistry, and abnormal erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), X-rays to look at the lymph nodes, computerized tomography or CT scan and magnetic resonance imaging or MRI scans of the chest, pelvis, and abdomen to see if the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body.

Other scans that could be used to properly diagnose and determine the stage of the cancer are the positron emission tomography or PET scan which scans the cancer at a cellular level and the gallium scan which looks for radioactive intake of gallium which can mean the onset of the disease. There are other tests and procedures which doctors might conduct on you all in the aid of a proper and accurate diagnosis.

Hodgkins lymphoma has several sub-types, namely nodular sclerosis (NS) which hits the lower neck, chest and collarbone, lymphocyte predominance (LP) which is made of malignant L&H cells which have a “popcorn”, mixed cellularity (MC) which has lymph nodes that are usually contain Reed-Sternberg cells and inflammatory cells, lymphocyte depleted (LD), and nodular lymphocyte predominant (NLP).

As they say, knowing is half the battle. Knowing more about Hodgkins disease is a good thing. You can contribute fully to the decision making process if you know exactly the situation you are in.


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Usual Symptoms of Lymphoma

A type of cancer known as lymphoma could occur innocuously, usually in a harmless way that it often takes a long time before a person takes notice of evident symptoms. You should learn about the most common symptoms of the disease. Take note that most of such signs could commonly occur that they could appear even if you are not suffering from lymphoma. There is indeed no need to panic when these symptoms are observed. The best thing to do is to immediately consult the doctor so that all your doubts and fears could be properly addressed.

Painless lumps in the groin, armpits, or neck

This is the most usual symptom. In many cases this is the only manifestation of lymphoma. The lumps are actually enlarged lymph nodes. Such lumps could be noticed or felt while you are changing or bathing. Your partner could also call your attention because of such lumps. This top symptom must come with the following other symptoms to feed your suspicion that you may be suffering from this type of cancer.

Abrupt weight loss

Weight loss that occurs rapidly and for no apparent reason could be suspicious. If you are not into any weight loss program and you significantly shed off pounds (about 10 lbs to 15 lbs in just several months), you should inspect your body and find out if there are lumps in the neck, groin, or armpits. If there are, immediately subject yourself to medical tests.

Continuous fever

Immediately seek medical attention if a fever occurs continuously and intermittently for a certain period of time. If there is no occurrence of urinary or chest infection and there are lumps in specific areas in the body, consult a doctor at once. Fever related to swellings of the nodes is commonly infectious. Many forms of lymphoma are usually mistaken as mere infections during the early stage of cancer. Pel-Ebstein fever (very high fever going on and off for seven to 10 days) is a top manifestation of Hodgkin lymphoma.

Excessive sweating especially at night

This situation is quite bothersome. It is uncomfortable. Often, you may wake up in the middle of the night while being drenched in too much sweat. When there is no apparent reason for this sweating episode and other symptoms of the cancer are evident, you should be alarmed.

Loss of appetite and itchiness all over the body

You would experience an unexplained and considerable loss of appetite if the lymphoma has spread across other parts of the body. This leads to weight loss, which is discussed earlier. If you detect a 10% weight loss or more, be immediately concerned as the symptom could already be a poor prognostic factor of the cancer. At the same time, there could be abnormal itchiness all over the body as lymphoma cells secrete special chemicals due to the condition.

Overall feeling of weakness

Lastly, lymphoma comes with an overall feeling of weakness. As cancer cells continue growing, they inevitably make use of most of the nutrients in the body. This occurrence makes you logically feel weaker.


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