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Treating Lymphoma: The Various Procedures

Cancer is a word that most of us dread to hear from our doctors. We know that its something that should not be taken lightly, plus we cant even count how many times we have seen in the movies and television about the difficulties of the disease and more often than not the sad ending that follows. So hearing you have cancer of the lymph cells, which what lymphoma really is, is more than enough to give you and your family a scare. Treating lymphoma is never easy both physically and mentally for the patient. Having the full support of the family is a good thing to have in situations like these.

Lymphoma develops when the lymph cells begin to multiply quickly beyond what is normal. This abnormal growth soon forms tumors. These lymph cells are found in blood and lymph nodes thus with the grown of the cancer cells it is only natural that the lymph nodes enlarge and manifests as painless lumps in the neck, armpits or groin.

There are two main types of lymphoma. The most common one is the Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This type is distinguished from the rest by the presence of the Reed-Sternberg cell. The spread of the cancer cells in Hodgkin’s lymphoma is more predictable and often quite limited unlike the non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas where cancer cells develop first in other organs before spreading into the lymph nodes. The non-Hodgkins types of lymphomas are classified according low-grade, intermediate-grade or high-grade lymphomas which basically is based on how quickly the cancer cells spread.

Because of the number of types of lymphomas, the treatments vary. Often the treatments are combinations of various therapies and procedures. It is normal to have a number of treatments for a single lymphoma case. Once the type of lymphoma has been diagnosed and identified, the next step is to determine what stage it is in now. The kinds and extent of treatment of the cancer is dependent on the age of the patient and the degree or stage of the lymphoma. The treatment methods are either through chemotherapy, radiation therapy, antibody therapy (or biological therapy) and bone-marrow or stem cell transplantation. Again, combining one or two of these treatment methods is possible to address the present condition of a patient.

Chemotherapy uses various drugs to kill the tumor or cancer cells. The drugs can be taken orally or through injection. The advantage of using chemotherapy is that the drugs do not cause that much damage to the nearby normal and healthy cells. Radiotherapy, on the other hand, uses X-rays to kill the tumor cells. The rays damage the DNA of the cancer cells and because the DNA is damaged the cancer cells are unable to multiply which halts that growth of the cancer. Nearby healthy cells are damaged from the radiation bombardment so the goal in radiotherapy is minimize the damage to nearby, healthy cells. That is why those who undergo radiotherapy is scheduled to receive small doses of radiation at a time to lessen the damage to the cells.

Another treatment is the antibody therapy which uses antibodies which target unique molecules of a cancer cell. This attack from the antibody will eventually kill the cancer cells. And finally, the last way of treating lymphoma is by bone marrow or stem cell transplantations. These are medical procedures where the stem cells that were destroyed by high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy are replaced through surgery.


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Lymphoma Warning Signs

Panicking is never a good thing. Imagine yourself running back and forth inside your house after you felt a lump of in you armpits. It is very possible that you have lymphoma or cancer of the lymph nodes. But still going around in panic is never the answer. Early detection is very important in this situation for treatment of the cancer is more effective. But one could actually check if he or she has lymphoma by looking out for a few lymphoma waning signs. But of course, self diagnosis is never a replacement for the actual, proper and effective medical testing.

As mentioned before, one of the first warning signs that you probably would observe is the presence of lumps not only in your armpits but in your neck and groin as well. These lumps are painless and signs of enlarged lymph nodes. However, an enlarged lymph node is not specific to lymphoma. There might be other underlying conditions for the cause of swollen or enlarged lymph nodes.

Another sign is sudden weight loss. If you found yourself suddenly loosing weight without no apparent cause then lymphoma might be the reason. Although, sudden weight loss is in itself an indication that something is not right with your bodys state of health so it is imperative that you visit your doctor for a check up. In the case of lymphoma patients, however, they found themselves losing ten or even fifteen pounds over just a couple of months without doing any exercises or changing their diet or eating habits at all.

Fever is also an indication of a possible lymphoma diagnosis especially if the fever comes and goes and is like that for a long time now. Fever often comes with body infections. People often mistook lymphomas as mere infections. Again, it is reiterated that consulting your doctors when you experience such fevers is highly recommended.

Other signs include excessive sweating at night which not only is quite unique to lymphoma but is also very uncomfortable which in a way signals the person to have his body checked. People who experience this abnormal sweating behavior wake up practically drenched even if they did not have any nightmares whatsoever or fell asleep in a room with extremely hot temperature. Just like excessive sweating, feeling itchy all over is another unique symptom of lymphoma. The itchiness comes from the release of chemicals from the cancer cells.

Fatigue and loss of appetite are also quite common in lymphoma patients. People actually feel this way because the cancer cells have grown considerably that they are practically sucking most of the nutrients you get from the food you eat. And with the loss of appetite the cancer cells sucks more of the bodys nutrients thats why it is only natural that you feel weak.

The good thing about medical science is that they continue to find ways of treating various ailments and diseases. Lymphoma can be treated and with early detection the treatments are more effective with more positive results. We just need to heed the lymphoma warning signs to help patients with lymphoma get an immediate diagnosis and treatment.


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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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Important and Useful Information about Lymphoma

Instead of living in fear that you might have lymphoma, you should be very aware from the start of how the usual process goes. It will be better if you are going to find out more about it through research. You can get this done by going through various online resources as well as on printed books and professional studies that were conducted about the subject.

To help you understand the basic things about this illness, here is an overview of the various steps that a person goes through when they are suffering from this kind of cancer. The very first noticeable signs are the enlarged lymph nodes that can be found in the areas of armpits, neck and groin. In most cases, those who have these kinds of nodes also suffer from fever, loss of appetite and drastic weight loss.

When you seek the doctor’s help, they will require you to undergo excisional biopsy. To get this done, they will take small tissue sample from the organs or nodes that seem to be affected with the disease. This sample will be studied by a pathologist under the microscope. Other doctors may ask you to have the fine needle aspiration cytology or FNAC and will let you go through biopsy once they have determined that you have the illness. In most cases, patients go through the lymph node biopsy, but when the cancer affects other areas such as the stomach, brain or skin, the specific biopsy that are targeted to these organs will be done.

Once it was established that you are ill with this disease, the doctor will not be able to give you proper treatment until they know exactly what kind of the disorder you are dealing with. This can be ruled after the pathologist is done inspecting your biopsy sample under the microscope and they have seen the physical appearance of the cancer cells. The two main types of this sickness are the Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin or NHL. The types can also be understood through the use of markers that can point out special molecules on the affected cells.

After the diagnosis, the patient needs to undergo series of tests. Through the tests, it will be examined how far the disease has been spread through the body and what organs have already been infected. Depending on the doctor and how they perceive things, the individual may have to go through a bone marrow test, blood test and if the case is worse, they may need to seek chemotherapy treatment. After all the tests, the patient will discuss things with an oncologist about their other treatment options.

The best thing that you can do to stay healthy all the time is to eat right and lead an ideal lifestyle. This may not be that easy, especially if you are the type of person who loves going out while drinking alcohol and doing other vices. There are also those that no matter how healthy their lifestyle is, there are other factors that affect their overall well-being.


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