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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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The Various Stages and Common Symptoms of Lymphoma

The cancer that is known as lymphoma can be clearly understood through the staging process. This refers to how the sickness is categorized based on how big it is and what parts of the body has already been affected or healed. The worse the outcome seems to be, the higher the stage of the disease could be. There are four parts or stages that the disease will be grouped into and this can only be done after the patient has undergone through series of tests and scans to rule out the body affected organs and body parts.

To give you an idea about the various stages that this illness is categorized, here are the basic points about each phase.

Stage one. At this stage, the illness has only been determined to be present at a group of lymph nodes. There are also cases wherein the illness was found in one organ, which is not part of the lymph system, but this kind of case is quite rare.

Stage two. The cancer is now seen in two or even more groups of the lymph nodes that can be found on the similar side as with the diaphragm, which is a lean kind of muscle that is located under the lungs. The diaphragm helps a person to breathe easily. This also separates the chest area from the abdomen.

Stage three. The cancer at this stage can be found at the groups of lymph nodes that are situated on both sides of the diaphragm. There are some cases wherein the adjacent organs are also involved. This also becomes part of stage III when a spleen is seen after the sickness has been detected.

Stage four. This is the terminal stage wherein the lung substance is already affected. This is also the phase when the bone marrow and liver are involved in the disease as well as the other organs that are far from the originally infected parts.

There are many other factors that can affect the results of the treatments that are done with people that are suffering from the disease, like the age of the patient and the size of the illness. If you are in the advanced stage of this sickness, you must not lose hope because there are many cases that have been healed eventually even after suffering from the higher stages.

From the early signs or when you are starting to feel like there is something wrong, do not hesitate and consult with a doctor. To help you find out if you have the symptoms that are related with the disease, here are some of the most common ones. The most common and also the most important symptoms are the lumps on your neck, groin and armpits. These are painless, which is why there are many people who disregard these easily and only start seeking help when other symptoms start to come up.

The other symptoms that you may feel once you have the enlarged lymph nodes include loss of appetite, weight loss, fever, excessive sweating, especially at night and itchiness. You may also feel weak as the cancer cells of the lymphoma start spreading and grow bigger.


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Surviving Lymphoma

Sure, conditions such as lymphoma, the cancer in the lymph system, can be depressing. This is because you have to undergo painful treatment options such as chemotherapy and radiation in order to get better. Aside from that, you will have to spend money for hospitalization, continues medication and regular check ups.

All these are the common problems people with illnesses and their families have to deal with. It’s painful and stressful but then, there’s no gain when you sulk into self pity and depression. Those negative feelings will only make you feel bad instead of helping your recovery.

The way to recovery and healing

Experts say that the most common issues that people who are suffering from lymphoma deal with would include the side-effects of lymphoma treatment, the total cure and possible relapse as well as fertility issuesboth in men and womenafter cancer treatment is over or while it is still being administered.

These issues might be hard to deal with but experts suggest that these could be handled so much better if one tries to see the brighter side of the situation. If one is able to see the good after surviving the condition, then living with lymphoma would be so much easier.

If you are one of those who would want to get started on recovery of the soul and the body after a lymphoma treatment, the first thing that you need to set your mind into it. If your mindset is that you would want to get started on recovery and stick with it until you are successful, you will be inspired to aim for that goal. Setting your mind into something will help you look forward to the results of what you are aiming for. For people, who have just survived lymphoma, to have a proper mindset, he or she clear their minds from negative thoughts. Once a clear mind id achieve, that person would be more enthusiastic when it comes to recovery.

The next best thing is to start over again. This time, there should be no pressure in the recovery and this can be done if you would start accomplishing small and simple tasks. If you start, you would be able to recover fast enough without having constant worries of relapse hanging over your head.

Another thing that can help you pave the way for recovery and healing is when your get started learning new things. Patients who have just recovered from terminal illnesses such as lymphoma are encouraged to start anew so they would be able to face the life ahead of them. Patients are asked to spend some time in acquiring new skills that can help them achieve the goals they have set for themselves.

Experts agree that having the concept for recovery is a very important factor for people who are trying their best to live with lymphoma. Acceptance when it comes to the things that one and could not do will also help the faster recovery not only of the body but also of the mind and the soul.


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Some Side Effects of Lymphoma Treatment

Lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system. Like other cancers, lymphoma can be treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy among with other methods like antibody treatment and even through bone marrow transplants. And just like any other type of cancer, there are some notable side effects of lymphoma treatments.

Treating cancer is rather toxic to the body. Cancer cells multiply in an abnormal rate. This rate of growth produces a mass of tissue which becomes a tumor. When left alone the cancer cells eventually suffocate the healthy cells nearby and shut down their functions. Whole organs can shut down completely which obviously means death to that person. Eradicating these cancer cells is the key element in cancer treatment procedures. However, the overall goal of cancer treatments is to destroy cancer cells without killing the normal and healthy cells nearby.

Chemotherapy is a common method of killing those cancer cells. This treatment uses various drugs to eliminate the cells. However, the drugs still affect some of the healthy cells. Among the more common side effects of the treatment in lymphoma patients includes decreased blood cell production, diarrhea, fatigue, mouth sores and hair loss. Decreased in blood production includes the normal red blood cells, the white blood cells and even the platelets. Some patients also reported feelings of nausea after the treatment. And because the drugs used for the treatment can also harm the production of sperm and egg cells, it is a medical fact that the treatment can indeed cause temporary or even permanent sterility of patients.

Instead of drugs, radiation therapy uses x-rays to kill the cells. But just like chemotherapy, the use of high energy x-rays can kill the neighboring healthy cells. Common side effects of this treatment include feeling tired all the time like all your energy was drained out of your body. Hair loss and nausea are also common problems when patients undergo radiation therapy. But hair loss is limited to areas where the treatment is actually targeted. Nausea and skin changes like getting red or itching are other known side effects.

Some treatments use steroids to control the growth of the cells. This is actually quite common and is used alongside other treatments. Steroids such as cortisone, prednisone and dexamethasone can cause insomnia, increased appetite, mood swings or changes and weight gain. The good thing about steroid treatment is that it is not used for long periods so the side effects are actually not strongly felt.

To counteract the side effects of lymphoma treatment, doctors suggests that you drink a lot of water before your treatment especially if you will undergo chemotherapy. If you experience mouth sores, a good way to provide some comfort is by drinking milk and cream. Juices especially tomato and citrus juices are not a good idea when you have numerous sores in your mouth. It has been suggested that you eat several small meal portions during the day instead of eating full size meals.

Remember that your immune system at this point is compromised because of your low blood count so it would be advisable to stay away from crowded areas and people that are sick. Ask your doctors for other ways to lessen the side effects.


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