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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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How Does One Get Lymphoma?

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the bodys lymph system. Contrary to its name and to what some people might have told you, lymphoma is not just isolated on the lymph nodes and thymus gland for the lymph or lymphatic system is actually composed of the bone marrow, the thymus gland, the lymph nodes, tonsils, appendix and spleen. The system filters the waste or unwanted materials like fats and bacteria from the various body tissues. The one that picks up the bodys dirt is the lymph, a clear or sometimes yellowish fluid. But the question remains, how does one get lymphoma?

Unfortunately however, the answer to that question is not a simple one. For one, despite the thousands of hours spent on medical research and laboratory testing the actual cause of the disease is still an unknown. DNA mutation is one of the possible cause of why lymphoma develops but what happens why DNA have to mutate remains a big question to the medical science community. Medical scientists, nevertheless, have found several factors that can possibly increase the risks of developing lymphoma.

As you might have already guessed, the two general factors are genetic and environmental factors. Genetics for one is still a complicated issue that most likely cannot be resolved soon with a concluding answer. Inheriting the disease cannot still be ascertained as a valid cause. However, it was found out the people with inherited immune disorders are most likely to develop lymphoma as well. Immune disorders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease appear to have a hand in the development of lymphoma.

Likewise, those that have immune system disorders are also at a higher risk of developing lymphoma. Those that belong to this type of disorders include patients with HIV/AIDS, Helicobacter Pylori and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). People with compromised immune systems like those with HIV/AIDS and EBV are often candidates for lymphoma as well.

On the environmental factors side, it should be common knowledge by now that various health hazards such as exposure to chemicals and radiation causes a variety of diseases, disorders or health conditions. And this includes developing lymphoma. More specifically, solvents like acetone, alcohol (yes various alcohols), xylene, turpentine, and benzene have found to associated with lymphoma.

The same can be said with chemical herbicides and pesticides which make farmers and various workers in the agricultural sector at a higher risk on developing the disease. Some hair dye products have also been found to be a significant factor to the development of lymphoma in some patients. Although, it seems that the hair dye products that shown such effects were those manufactured before the 1980s.

How does one get lymphoma? To fully answer that question means giving more time and more funding to the medical science community to do their research and testing. Lymphoma cases are not going down and definitely the disease is not something that can be eradicated in a quick span of time. But for now, we should at least try to avoid the various factors that increase our risk of contracting the disease. Prevention is still the best cure.


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What is Lymphoma?

Lymphoma is simply defined as a type of cancer in the lymph system. British physician Thomas Hodgkin was the first to publish initial descriptions of the condition in 1832. Thus, the specific type of lymphoma he described (Hodgkins lymphoma) was appropriately named after him. After his initial description, many other studies looked at several other forms or types of the cancerous disease.

A cancer appears when several of our bodies cells begin behaving abnormally. The body is comprised of various kinds of cells found in different organs like the nerves of blood. At times, normal cells cease getting usual biological signals that make them stop growing. When that happens, the cells abnormally continue to multiply and grow. This is the formation of cancer cells. When the cancer cells grow, the affected organ stops working normally. Several of the cancer cells also start to break off from the original site, spreading into many other body parts and affecting many other organs.

The lymph system comprises an interconnected network with thin nodes and tubes carrying white blood cells. Such cells are responsible for fighting off infections. This way, they are vitally significant to the bodys overall well-being. When a lymphocyte (a specific kind of white blood cell) in the lymph system starts to become cancerous, it would tend to multiply and grow leading to formation of lymphoma.

Which part of the body is usually affected by lymphoma? The cancer could affect any part of the lymph system. Usually, patients initially notice abnormal enlargement of the lymph nodes, specifically in the areas of the groin, the neck, and the armpits. However, lymphoma could also manifest in several other organs of the body. This is because minimal amounts of lymph tissue pass into practically every organ in the body as white blood cells reach out to different areas to perform control of infections.

This type of cancer is currently the most usual form of blood cancer or hematological malignancy especially in the developed countries. Lymphoma comprises about 5.3% of overall forms of cancers in the United States alone. It comprises of up to 55.6% of blood cancers diagnosed. According to data released by the US National Institute of Health, Hodgkins lymphoma is accounting for about 1% of total cases of cancer across the country. Patients with HIV infection and exposure to certain medications and drugs have higher incidences of lymphoma for obvious reasons.

Many forms of lymphoma are indolent (occurring lifelong even without medication or treatment) or aggressive (causing fast deterioration of health and eventually death). However, most incidences of aggressive lymphomas are responding ideally to treatment. In other words, they are curable. This condition is not a single type of cancer because it comprises of a group of several related forms of cancers. There are about 30 various types of identified lymphoma. In a broad sense, lymphoma could be categorized as either Hodgkin or Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Of course, each type has its own features and manifestations and results to different outcomes in the long term.


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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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