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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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Asking Your Doctor about Lymphoma

Lymphoma simply means cancer of the lymphatic system. However, as simple as it sounds the disease is quite complex. So it is only natural to begin asking your doctor about lymphoma right from the start. But it is essential that you ask the right questions as well. Never be shy about asking questions that you think sounds stupid. Your future health is on the line so it is imperative that you be properly informed.

We often ask our doctors what causes lymphoma. Unfortunately, the answer to this question remains to be a big fat unknown. Doctors and scientists have yet to identify the singular cause of the cancer. However, what they were able to do was identify the different risk factors involve that might affect the development of lymphoma. It seems that prolong exposure to hazardous chemicals, herbicides, pesticides and even drugs that suppress the bodys immune system have been tied to the high chances of developing cancer of the lymphatic system. Avoiding these situations would be a good life choice or at the very least if you work in the industry where handling chemicals or pesticides are necessary you should take the necessary precautions to protect our bodies from harm.

You need to ask your doctor what type of lymphoma you have. There are two kinds: the Hodgkin’s lymphoma which is immediately identifiable under the microscope due to the presence of a particular cell. This is actually the most common kind of lymphoma. The rest of the cases that dont adhere to the conditions and appearance of Hodgkins lymphoma are simply classified as non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Even though they have similarities, the two kinds of lymphoma use slightly different treatment procedures which are why it is important that your doctors are able to identify what kind you have.

How far the disease has spread and how serious is the condition? This is another pertinent information before treatment is implemented. There are basically four stages of lymphoma development. The first stage is where the cancer cells are just in one part of your body so far. At this stage the cancer cells are isolated in at least one lymph node. The second stage is more complex for the cancer cells are in two or more lymph nodes or regions. The cancer cells are located either above or below the diaphragm. This stage is also referred to as “locally advanced disease.”

The next stage is the advance disease which is the third stage already. The cancer cells at this point are already on both sides of the diaphragm. The final stage or stage four means the cancer cells have already spread to other parts of the body.

The next series of questions would be concerning the treatment. What are the treatment recommendations and what are the procedures for the treatment. There are a number of treatment options available. Among them is biologic therapy which uses methods like monoclonal antibodies, radioimmunotherapy, interleukin 2 and vaccines that boost the bodys capability of protecting itself from lymphoma. Other treatments include the conventional chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Asking your doctor about lymphoma means to get all the information about the disease in order for you to be prepared physically, mentally and psychologically on the next steps that you would need to undergo.


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All You Need to Know About Lymphoma

Whenever you get sick, whats the first thing that you do? Know what you have. Either its a simple fever or a complicated illness, the very first thing that you do is to gather information to find out your current condition. The same thing with lymphoma, whether you research things on your own or go to a doctor (although this should always be the case since self diagnosis can bring you only so far) for advice, your target is to get all you need know about the disease.

Lymphoma is basically a cancer of the lymphatic system. The system is composed of various nodes or glands situated in different places of our body. These glands are connected by vessels that carry the lymph fluid or the white blood cells which help fight diseases. As you might have remembered in your high school biology class, the white blood cells help fight the bacteria and diseases that enter our body. And because these glands are connected to each other, once lymphoma hits a gland, theres a good chance that the cancer cells spread throughout the body via the lymph vessels. You should know this fact out front: no cure has been discovered yet that would eliminate the disease. Nonetheless, there are new techniques, medicines and medical procedures that have brought more positive treatments for people with lymphoma.

There are two kinds of lymphoma, namely Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). The first one, the Hodgkins disease owes its name to Thomas Hodgkin (1798-1866). He was the first one who published a paper about the disease. This kind of lymphoma is capable of spreading from one lymph node to another. It is also observed that people diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma has the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells which can only be detected by the aid of a microscope.

The other kind of lymphoma is the non-Hodgkin kind. This kind is described as having larger than normal lymph nodes and is accompanied by fever and weight loss. There are about 16 sub-types which do not fall under the conditions described by Hodgkins lymphoma. These sub-types are grouped according to aggressiveness which basically means the cancer cells are fast-growing. NHL lymphomas include chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL), Burkitt lymphoma, mantle cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and immunoblastic large cell lymphoma.

Treatment is either radiation therapy or chemotherapy. The age, sex and stage of the cancers development plays a role in determining the kind of treatment patients will undergo. Early detection is crucial. Most of the patients do survive the treatment especially if they have been diagnosed during the early stages of the lymphoma.

Some of the more common symptoms of lymphomas include painless swelling in the lymph nodes of the neck, underarm, or groin. People with lymphomas also might experience fever, tiredness, weight loss, itchiness, red patches on the skin, nausea, vomiting and sometimes abdominal pain.

Those with low-grade lymphomas will encounter a very slow growth of the cancer cells and will experience very few of the symptoms. The problem with low-grade lymphomas is that even though they respond well to chemotherapy, they oftentimes return and is considered incurable unlike high-grade lymphomas. With the latter, treatment involves chemotherapy, with or without radiation therapy.

Admittedly, the information above is not all that you need to know about lymphoma. There are more facts that you need to find out for yourself especially if you have been diagnosed with having lymphoma.


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