Malignant lymphoma is a malignant swelling of the lymphatic organs or lymph nodes. It is mainly the so-called non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The cause of the development of such malignant lymphomas is unknown; the prognosis depends on the stage of the disease, the age and the state of health of the patient.
What is malignant lymphoma?
According to Gradphysics, malignant lymphomas are often colloquially referred to as lymph node or lymph gland cancer. However, those designations are not 100 percent correct, since malignant lymphomas can also attack organs such as the spleen and sometimes the lymphatic system. There are numerous subtypes of this malignant swelling; these are subsequently also decisive for the therapies and prognosis.
The reason why malignant lymph forms is still not 100 percent clear. However, there are various factors that can significantly increase the risk of any malignant lymphoma. These include the ongoing weakening of the immune system; People who take immunosuppressive drugs or who are also infected with HIV are at greater risk of developing malignant lymphoma.
Researchers also do not rule out the causative agent of glandular fever, the Epstein-Barr virus, when it comes to the development of malignant lymphomas. The Epstein-Barr virus has repeatedly been linked to malignant lymphomas. Environmental toxins, chemicals and tobacco smoking can also be linked to the development of malignant lymphomas. Age is also a risk factor. The probability of illness increases automatically with the number of years.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
At the beginning, malignant lymphomas cause non-specific symptoms such as tiredness, poor performance, exhaustion or loss of appetite. Which other symptoms can occur also ultimately depends on the type of lymphoma and the stage at which the disease is. The spectrum ranges from itching to skin changes, can sometimes cause persistent diarrhea or cause heartburn and coughing.
Since the immune system – due to excessive reproduction – is thrown out of balance, disturbed and subsequently weakened, the susceptibility to viral, bacterial and fungal infections naturally increases. In the later stages, malignant lymphomas sometimes also cause enlargement of the liver and spleen; if the bone marrow is affected, the blood picture is disturbed.
The so-called B symptoms, which can occur as part of the disease, should be taken into account. This is a recurring fever (well over 38 degrees) that cannot be attributed to other causes, unwanted weight loss and night sweats. However, such symptoms are not an indication that a malignant lymphoma has sometimes formed. However, the symptoms can sometimes raise the suspicion that there is a possibility that malignant lymphoma has developed.
Diagnosis & course of disease
If there is a suspicion of a malignant lymphoma, different diagnostic measures are considered. The doctor removes the enlarged lymph nodes (so-called biopsy); this is subsequently examined in the laboratory. Attention is paid to the immunological, genetic and molecular-biological properties; these ultimately provide information as to whether a so-called malignant lymphoma is present or not.
Sometimes the type of lymphoma can also be determined. After the malignant lymphoma has been identified, the doctors carry out the “staging”. This will determine the stage of the disease. It is important how many groups of lymph nodes are affected and whether other organs have also been affected (liver, lungs or sometimes the bone marrow).
Various examination methods are used as part of the “staging”. These include ultrasound examinations, X-rays and a biopsy of the bone marrow or laboratory analyzes of the blood and imaging procedures (MRT – magnetic resonance therapy; bone scintigraphy or positron emission tomography, also called PET).
Which examination is actually necessary at the end or which delivers the best result is decided individually, depending on the patient. The prognosis varies. The fact of how well the patient responds to the planned therapy plays an important role here; Furthermore, age and general condition also play an important role, as does the stage at which the malignant lymphoma is located.
There are various symptoms associated with this disease. As a rule, those affected suffer from severe tiredness and also from exhaustion. Likewise, the resilience of the person affected is significantly reduced due to the disease, and sometimes there is a loss of appetite. It is not uncommon for patients to suffer from being underweight or suffering from a nutrient deficiency.
Redness and itching also spread to the skin, which can significantly reduce the patient’s quality of life. The liver and spleen are enlarged, which can often lead to pain. There is also fever and night sweats. Those affected often feel confused and no longer actively participate in life. Due to the permanent restrictions, psychological complaints or even depression often occur.
The treatment of this disease is relatively complex, so that a completely positive course of the disease does not occur in every case. As a rule, those affected are dependent on various therapies, which can also be associated with side effects. The life expectancy of the person affected may also be significantly reduced and limited as a result of the disease.
When should you go to the doctor?
If irregularities of the organism appear, increased vigilance should be exercised. If night sweats form, persistent itching on the skin or unwanted weight loss, a doctor’s visit is necessary. If there are repeated fungal infections, bacterial infestation, exhaustion and poor performance, a doctor is needed. If there is a feeling of tightness in the body, swelling or swelling on the body, it is advisable to clarify the symptoms. Loss of appetite, digestive disorders and diarrhea are other indications of a health problem that should be investigated and treated. In principle, people of adulthood should take part in the regularly offered check-ups. This also applies if there are no complaints.
If you also suffer from heartburn, a sleep disorder or a cough, you should discuss the observations with a doctor. A recurring fever or elevated body temperature is cause for concern. A doctor’s visit is necessary so that the cause can be clarified. If the person affected feels less resilient or no longer able to cope with everyday challenges, they should contact a doctor. If confusion occurs or there is a withdrawal from social life, these are further indications that must be clarified by a doctor.
Treatment & Therapy
The therapy is usually complex; it is important that the patient visits a center that specializes in malignant lymphomas. The doctors adapt the therapy to the individual situation of the patient and thus enable the best possible treatment result. The question of which therapy is actually used depends on the state of health that is made dependent on various factors.
The type of lymphoma, the stage, the state of health and the personal wishes of the patient play an important role. In the case of malignant lymphomas, chemotherapy, stem cell and 8[bone marrow transplantation]]s, radiotherapy, radioimmunotherapy, immunotherapy and also targeted therapies with different drugs are mainly used.
In doing so, however, the physicians rely on the molecular-biological peculiarities of the cancer cells that have formed. If it is a malignant lymphoma that is growing very slowly, aggressive therapy can be dispensed with initially if the doctor checks the patient’s condition at regular and short intervals. This is referred to as “watch and wait” therapy.
Outlook & Forecast
The outlook varies greatly depending on the type of malignant lymphoma. There are very good chances of recovery for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The prognosis for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, on the other hand, is mixed. The patient’s general condition, age and response to chemotherapy are decisive for successful healing. The time of diagnosis also has a significant impact on the prognosis for recovery. In the advanced stage, a final cure is rather unlikely. Life expectancy is then significantly reduced because the infestation has spread to other organs.
Less than five percent of all cancers diagnosed annually are related to malignant lymphoma. Most patients need to start therapy around their 60s. A clear majority of patients suffer from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Some lymphomas are also more common in children.
If patients refuse treatment, they can fall into a deadly cycle. Because the body is much more susceptible to diseases. As it progresses, vital organs such as the liver and lungs are also attacked. Successfully completed treatment does not lead to lifelong recovery. There are frequent relapses. This means that aftercare plays an important role.
Since the causes of the development of the disease are not known and patients who are affected by a malignant lymphoma cannot be told why the malignant ulcer has formed, no preventive measures are known.
You can do that yourself
When a malignant lymphoma occurs, the affected person should rest physically and not do any physically strenuous work or sport. Adequate sleep and rest periods should be maintained. In addition, a change in diet can be helpful for the patient. The diet should be healthy and the sufferer should ensure that all nutrients and minerals are consumed in the recommended amounts.
Due to the mental stress associated with such a disease, there is also an impairment of the psyche. The patient’s environment is then of particular importance. The support of family, friends and partners is particularly important. In addition, psycho-oncologists offer those affected professional care.
Patients can also participate in self-help groups. There are a large number of self-help groups specifically for the various types of cancer. The participants in such a self-help group meet regularly. However, if the patient is unable to attend such meetings due to shyness or some other reason, there is an alternative. Such self-help groups can also be found on the Internet. Participation is anonymous and you can still chat with other people affected. This can have the same effect as physically attending a meeting.