Lymphoma Cancer

Cancer that develops in the lymphatic system

By Triston Brewer, Medical Research EditorLast modified: September 14, 2011

Lymphoma Cancer

Lymphoma Cancer

What is Lymphoma? 

Lymphoma is the term used to describe cancer that develops in the lymphatic system, which is part of the body's immune system that helps to fight diseases and infection.  The lymphatic system consists of vessels of clear, watery fluid called lymph that contains lymphocytes which are infection-fighting cellular agents. Strung along this chain of vessels are small organs called lymph nodes, which can be found on the groin, neck, chest, the underarms, and abdomen.

Lymphoma cancer affects a small percentage of cancer cases, accounting for less than 3% of all reported cases in the United States. The most common type is called Hodgkin's disease, with all other categorized and grouped together as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. 

Symptoms of Lymphoma Cancer 

Diagnosing Lymphoma cancer can be problematic as the warning signs are often very subtle and undetectable to the human eye. Also, some of the symptoms of Lymphoma cancer fall under other diseases, which makes pinpointing especially difficult. Some of the potential indicators of Lymphoma cancer are painless bumps on the neck, armpits or groin, dramatic weight loss, fever, excessive sweating at night, loss of appetite, breathlessness, swelling of the face and neck, and a general feeling of overall weakness.

As these symptoms are not always signs of cancer, it is advisable to consult a physician if experiencing the above symptoms for longer than two weeks. 

Causes of Lymphoma Cancer 

Although it has been extensively researched for years, the causes of lyphoma cancer are still not well known. Agent Orange was one of the first chemicals to be linked to both Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Researchers do know that DNA mutations cause lymphoma to develop but how those are triggered is relatively unknown. Certain chemicals have been linked to Lymphoma cancer, such as acetone, various alcohols, xylene, turpentine, hair dye, and benzine to name a few, which are all highly toxic.

Chemicals for pest control and defoliation have also been noted to cause Lymphoma cancer and are considered a significant risk factor. The herbicides and pesticides used in the crops of farmers also pose a threat to the general population who consumes this food supply. 

Risk Factors of Lymphoma Cancer 

There are several risk factors involved in Lymphoma cancer. Age is one factor, with the majority of cases diagnosed in people over the age of 60. A weak immune system, such as HIV/AIDS cases, weakens the immune system and make the body more susceptible to lymphoma. Additionally, infections such Epstein-Barr virus, and hepatitis C can increase the likelihood of developing lymphoma. 

Tests and Diagnosis of Lymphoma Cancer 

Physicians test for lymphoma by performing an excisional biopsy, removing a small sample of the affected nodes or organs in question, where it is them viewed under a microscope by a pathologist. A needle aspiration test, also known as a FNAC, may be requested to get more tissue samples for a more thorough diagnosis. 

Treatment and Medications for Lymphoma Cancer 

Like most cancers, lymphoma is more likely to be cured if it is diagnosed early and treated as soon as possible. A combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy are the most widely used treatment options and provide the best results. In a smaller percentage of patients, biological therapy, which takes advantage of the body's cancer-fighting ability, is also used to good results. The goal of any medical therapy used is for complete remission, where the disease has disappeared or are undetectable in the body, causing no symptoms. 

Prevention of Lymphoma Cancer 

Since the cause of Lymphoma cancer has not be determined, there is no known general way to prevent it. Of course, avoiding smoking can help reduce the risk. Other risk factors, such as family history, cannot be avoided.

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This article was written by the medical research team at does not intend for any of the information on this site to be regarded as medical advice - it is meant as a starting point for understanding treatment details and options before contacting a registered, licensed doctor. We advise all patients to seek medical advice from a doctor.
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