Lymphoma cancer is a disease that starts in the lymph glands or other organs of the lymphatic system. It is the 5th most common male cancer and 6th most common female cancer. This is the reason why men are more likely to develop lymphoma cancers than women. There are different types of this disease, and these include:

  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia

Furthermore, this type of cancer can often start on the white blood cells present in our lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system which helps fight infections causing diseases.  There are two main types of lymphocytes, and they include:

  • B cells (B lymphocytes): They make proteins called antibodies.
  • T cells (T lymphocytes): They destroy germs and abnormal cells in the body

Areas Affected By Lymphoma

  • Lymph nodes: These are bean-sized collections of lymphocytes and other immune system cells in the whole body. They are connected to each other through a connective tissue (system of lymphatic vessels).
  • Spleen: This is an organ that is present below the lower ribs to the left-hand side. It aids in the formation of lymphocytes, other immune system cells, and storage of healthy blood cells; by eliminating the damaged cells, bacteria and cell waste. (1)
  • Thymus: This is a small organ behind the upper part of the breastbone and in the frontal part of the heart. It aids in the development of T cells.
  • Bone marrow: This is a spongy tissue that is present inside the bones. It, on the other hand, aids in the formation of new lymphocytes and other blood cells.
  • Tonsils and adenoids: They are collections of lymphoid tissue in the back of the throat. They are also responsible for the formation of antibodies against germs that can infect a person through swallowing or breathing.
  • Digestive system: This consists of the stomach, intestines and many other organs. It also has the lymph tissue.

Hodgkin lymphoma

Hodgkin lymphoma can start almost anywhere in the body. However, Hodgkin lymphoma most often starts in the lymph nodes in the upper part of the body. It mostly spreads through the lymph vessels from one lymph node to another lymph node. In rare occasions, it can invade the bloodstream and metastasize to other parts of the body like the lungs, liver and bone marrow.

This type of cancer has four types namely:

  • Mixed cellularity
  • Nodular sclerosis Hodgkin
  • Lymphocyte-depleted Hodgkin
  • Lymphocyte-rich Hodgkin

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

This kind of lymphoma can also start anywhere in the body. It can grow and spread at different rates depending on its kind.

The two kinds of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma are:

  • Indolent lymphomas: These are lymphomas that grow and spread very slowly. The most common type is the follicular lymphoma.
  • Aggressive lymphomas: These are lymphomas that grow and spread very quickly. The most common type is diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL).

If not treated early, non-Hodgkin lymphomas can grow and spread to other parts of the lymphatic system and other body parts. (2)

Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia

This is a type of lymphoma that starts in the B cells. It has features of both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It is a combination of both plasma cells and lymphocytes and is known as lymphoplasmacytic. The WM cells grow primarily in the bone marrow where they can overtake the normal cells and that aids in the formation of different types of blood cells.

This may lead to low levels of red blood cells, a condition known as anemia which causes fatigue and body weakness. It can also lead to a decrease in the number of platelets (blood clotting agents) in the blood which may lead to increased bleeding and bruising.

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