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Looking Out For The Warning Signs Of Lymphoma

Lymphoma, the cancer of the lymph system, is one of the hardest diseases to deal with. This is because up until now, no cure has been discovered to appease the fear of people at risk in this type of disease. Although there are some preventive measures that are advertised to prevent cancer cells from growing, nothing can stop it fully once it has multiplied and disabled the function of specific organs in the body.

Lymph system refers to a network of interconnected nodes and thin tubes which paves the way for the white blood cells to be carried out in the different parts of the body. White blood cells are very important since these helps fight infections. When these cells are struck by cancer cells, it will affect the way the white blood cells and will lead to its dysfunction.

Lymphoma targets a part of the lymph system and it does not refer to single cancer but to a group of many cancers that are related. As of today, there are about 30 types of lymphoma including “Mantle Cell Lymphoma,” “Malt Lymphoma,” “Cutaneous (Skin) Lymphoma,” “Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma,” “Burkitt Lymphoma,” and “Primary CNS Lymphoma” among others but these types can belong to two different categories including the Hodgkin Disease and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

According to experts, both categories may exhibit the same symptoms that are why the diagnosis and sets of examinations are done. But, the major difference in these two types will be noticeable depending on the person being affected.

Red flags of lymphoma

Lymphoma could be considered as a silent threat because it will take some time before its symptoms occur. And, when they do, they can be so common or “generic” thats why many people dont take it so seriously. Unless the symptoms become so noticeable and appear ever so often, that’s the only time when the person suffering from it would consider consulting a doctor.

If you are at risk, say belong to a family whose history include cancerspecifically cancer of the lymph systemthen it would be best to undergo a check up once you:

– feel painless lumps in the neck, armpits or groin. Experts say that this is the most commonand at timesthe ONLY one that is the symptom of lymphoma. Once you have enlarged nodes, it is the best time to undergo a check up. You can check if your nodes are enlarged when changing clothes or while taking a bath. You can also ask your sister or your partner to check it for you if you feel uncertain about the lumps. However, not all emerged lymph nodes are always signs of lymphoma so its better if you consult a physician to be sure.

– drastic weight loss. Once cancer cells attack the lymph system, the person will suddenly lose weight without apparent reason. In fact, once lymphoma remains undetected in the coming months, the person may lose as much as 15 to 20 pounds!

Other symptoms of lymphoma aside from enlarged lymph nodes and drastic weight loss may include continuous fever, sweating excessively specially during night time despite cold weather, and severe itchiness on almost all parts of the body which are results of special chemicals that are secreted by lymphoma cells.


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How Doctors Test for Lymphoma

In all kinds of diseases and ailments knowing what you have exactly can mean life and death. Identifying, categorizing and understanding your current condition allow doctors to determine the proper and most effective means of making you better. Without proper diagnosis, the prescribed treatment can be useless and at times even prove to be deadly. In the case of lymphoma, one would encounter terms like biopsy, bone marrow examination, blood tests, spinal tap and scans which are some of the basic procedures employed by medical experts to determine or confirm the presence of lymphoma.

Usually, the very first thing that helps determine if one has lymphoma is self diagnosis. Those that observe enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin would more often than not trigger alarm bells in the their heads. Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph nodes and the immune system. As the cancer cells develop, a tumor is formed usually in the lymph nodes which manifests as painless lumps. Upon consultation, your doctor will issue a battery of tests to confirm if it is lymphoma and if it is indeed cancer determine what stage it is at to know the possible course of treatment.

A biopsy is usually the first test that your doctors will employ to confirm the presence of cancer in your lymph nodes. In a biopsy, a small sample of tissue cells is taken from the lump either through a needle or via surgery. The cells are then examined by a pathologist to confirm lymphoma cells and the diagnoses. By studying the sample cells, the can also determine the basic kind of lymphoma the patient has, whether its Hodgkin or Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. But to determine the subtle details, doctors revert to the procedure called as immunohistochemistry which simply means looking for the unique properties of the tumor cell surface through the application markers such as fluorescent dye, enzyme, or colloidal gold to accurately classify the tumor.

You doctor would most likely require you to undergo several blood tests. The blood samples would be examined closely to see the state of your red blood cells, white blood cells and blood platelets. These tests would also help determine if the cancer has affected your bodys way of producing blood. The blood tests could also show the condition of your kidneys and liver. And more importantly, the information gathered from the tests could serve as basic foundations for the kind of treatments or drugs that could be used for your speedy recovery.

Doctors might also require you to undergo a bone marrow test wherein a sample of the bone marrow is taken from your hip using a thin needle. It is a common procedure used to test for various cancers and other blood diseases. A spinal tap or lumbar puncture can also be ordered by your doctor in specific circumstances. This checks the fluid in your spinal cord and determines if any cancer cells have invaded the spine. This procedure involves inserting a thin needle at the lower part of your back and I can be quite painful and uncomfortable.

CT scans will also help determine where the tumors are exactly since it takes pictures of your body from different angles. An MRI scan, on the hand, will help determine if the cancer cells have spread to your nervous system or other body organs.

How doctors tests for lymphoma involves logical procedures whose main goal is finding out what exactly the patient has in order to determine what kinds of treatments would be used.


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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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