Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: What it is, symptoms and treatment


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Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the lymph nodes, promoting its increase, and it mainly affects type B defence cells.

It is very important that this type of lymphoma is identified in its early stages so as to avoid further spreading of the tumour, as there will also be a greater chance of cure. Treatment should be as guided by the oncologist and it can be done through radiotherapy, chemotherapy as well as the use of monoclonal drugs.

Symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma

In most cases, lymphoma does not cause any symptoms and for this reason it can only be identified in its advanced stages due to changes in the bone marrow which directly interfere with the production of healthy blood cells. Moreover, the symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma may vary depending in where it is located in the body. Generally, the main symptoms related to non-Hodgkin lymphoma are:

Enlarged lymph nodes, also known as inguas, mainly in the neck, behind the ears, armpits and groin

  • Anaemia
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Fever
  • Lack of energy to carry out day-to-day activities
  • Night sweat
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Itchy skin
  • Swelling in the face or body
  • Weight loss without apparent cause
  • Easy bleeding
  • Appearance of bruises on the body
  • Bloating and abdominal discomfort
  • Feeling full stomach after eating little food
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It is advisable that the person consults a doctor as soon as they notice the appearance of inguas, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms. This is because tests can be performed earlier to confirm the diagnosis and start the most appropriate treatment.

How the diagnosis is made

The diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma should be done initially by a doctor then specifically by an oncologist who will asses the symptoms of the individual and evaluate the person’s family history. In addition, to confirm this diagnosis, other tests may also be performed such as blood tests, biopsy, imagine tests like tomography, screening for sexually transmitted infections like HIV and hepatitis B as well as performance of a myelogram.

These tests are done to confirm the presence of the disease and to identify the type of tumour and its stage, which is essential in identifying the appropriate treatment.

Treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma should be done according to the guidance of the oncologist and it usually varies depending on the type of tumour and its stage. It is done either using surgery and drugs that decrease the proliferation of the tumour, stimulate blood cell production and improve the quality of life of the individual.

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Treatment for this type of lymphoma is done using a combination of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy in which drugs are used with the aim of stopping the proliferation of the cells and promoting elimination of this type tumour and increasing production of defence cells of the body.

Chemotherapy sessions can last an average of 4 hours and it involves the person receiving oral and injectable drugs. However, when non-Hodgkin lymphoma is more severe, there may be need to perform radiotherapy sessions at the site of the lymphoma with the aim of promoting elimination of the tumour. Both chemotherapy and radiotherapy can cause adverse side effects such as nausea and hair loss.

In addition to treatment that has been prescribed by the oncologist, it is important that the patient maintains a healthy lifestyle, practise physical activity on a regular basis and consume a balanced diet as guided by the nutritionist.

Prognosis in case of non-Hodgkin lymphoma

The prognosis in case of non-Hodgkin lymphoma is usually individualized as it depends on several factors such as the type of tumour that the patient has, its stage and the general health status of the individual, the type of treatment that was administered before and when it was initiated.

The survival rate for this type of tumor is high but varies according to:

  • Age: The older the person, the greater the chances of them not being cured
  • Tumour volume: When it is more than 10 cm, the worse the chances of cure
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Therefore, people who are over 60 years of age and have tumours which are over 10cm have less chances of being cured and they can die in a span of 5 years.


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