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Lymphoma Cancer

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Introduction

The ever increasing changes in environmental factors and lifestyles in the world have been thought to act as major contributors to the causes of Lymphoma cancer. The number of deaths from cancer has been on the rise due to the fact numerous chemicals and pathogens are introduced into the human body, brought by changes associated with civilization and human development. The onset and mortality trends of lymphoma cancer have raised concerns due to their increase with time in spite of numerous researches into the causes of cancer. It is a fact that a significant number of people are potentially unaware that they have lymphoma cancer until it has developed into chronic stages. The lack of knowledge on lymphoma has significantly contributed to the increasing cases of Lymphoma cancer; therefore, the provision of information regarding the causes, symptoms and treatment of lymphoma cancer is critical to the prevention of the disease and aversion of possible deaths.

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Classification and Stages

Lymphoma characteristically results from uncontrolled multiplication and cell growth of the white blood cells. The infection of lymph nodes, whose sole purpose is to filter white blood cells, is caused by the collection of the excess microbial organisms that accumulate in the lymph nodes and the subsequent blockage of the lymphatic system. Lymphoma comes in two distinctive types: Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL). The latter is characterized by the B-cell and T- cell (Bardia & Seifter, 2011). These two sub-types of lymphoma are further classified according to the rate of growth of cancerous cells.

When the cancerous cells grow quickly, it represents aggressive lymphoma. In cases where the growth rate of the cancerous tissues is rather slow, one should speak of indolent lymphoma (National Cancer Institute, 2012). While Hodgkin’s Lymphoma exhibits similar characteristics to those found in Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, there may be found a significant difference between them. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is observed where HL patients have Reed-Sternberg (R-S) cells, which are abnormal cells. Additionally, HL has a tendency of spreading in systematic and consistent way in contrast to NHL which spreads in an unpredictable manner (Leukemia and Lymphoma society, 2012).

Lymphoma develops in several stages. At stage one, the cancer cells are localized to a definite lymph node or to a section of the body. Meanwhile, at stage two, the cancerous cells are present in more than one lymph node or sections of the body which are either below or above the patient’s diaphragm. At stage three, the cancerous cells are present below and above the diaphragm. At this stage, lymphoma cancer is significantly advanced in the patient’s body. Consequently, at stage four, lymphoma cancer gets significantly widespread and infects body organs such as the liver, skin, lungs, bone, or bone marrow (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, n.d.).

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Causes

Lymphoma cancer results from uncontrollable growth and increase of the cells which remain alive. These cells deviate from the normal behavior of cells where they grow, divide and die respectively (Skeel & Khleif, 2011). While the cause of lymphoma cancer is not clearly understood, various risk factors have been identified which have a high potential of contributing to the cause of lymphoma cancer. For instance, lymphoma cancer has been observed to result from instances of inherited genetic predisposition.

This is prevalent in cases where an individual is born with faulty genes or defined genetic mutations which increase the possibility of lymphoma cancer occurrence. Meanwhile, carcinogens such as herbicides, pesticides and toxic solvents have a high affinity to the occurrence of cancer (American Cancer Society, 2012). These substances are in most cases highly toxic and have the effect of damaging deoxyribonucleic acids (DNA) leading to high vulnerability of cancerous cells forming in the body. Consequently, the human physiology gradually weakens as an individual grows older and mutations in the cell structures may occur (Skeel & Khleif, 2011). As a result, the body becomes vulnerable to various diseases and infections which have a high affinity of causing lymphoma cancer. Additionally, diseases which require the administration of therapies intended to suppress the immune system, as well as autoimmune and immunodeficiency diseases have a higher probability of resulting in lymphoma cancer.

Symptoms

Since lymphoma affects the lymph nodes, they have a tendency to swell once the cancer begins to develop. Swelling of the lymph nodes in this case serves the evidence in given areas of the body where lymph nodes are located such as the groin, neck, or armpit (What is Lymphoma?, n.d.). These swellings will be easily noticed since they are close to the surface. As for those swellings that locate in areas which are not easily visible such as those in the chest and abdomen, they are detectable after an X-ray or scan has been done. The X-ray or scan test allows identifying various degrees of swelling depending on the stage of the disease and on the type of lymphoma cancer (Lymphoma and its symptoms, 2012). As a result of lymph nodes swelling, the lungs and air ducts get under pressure, which leads to breathlessness and coughing symptoms.

Meanwhile, where lymphoma prevails in the abdominal region, in particular in the stomach, it causes pain and bleeding as a result of the stomach lining inflammation. The latter can contribute to constipation and diarrhea with accompanied sense of being full even after eating negligible quantities of food. This is caused by the pressure exerted by the enlarged liver or spleen resulting in tremendous discomfort (Crosta, 2009). The pressure exerted by the swelling lymph nodes can result in immense pain because of pressure exerted on the tissue surrounding the infected lymph nodes; this symptom is characterized by back and abdominal pain. Where lymphoma manifests itself in the nervous system or the brain, it results in seizures, impaired vision, headaches, dizziness, or weak limbs (Batchelor & DeAngelis, 2012). Meanwhile, where it is found in the skin, it can lead to significant skin problems such as itching along with instances of fever and night sweats (Cerroni, Gatter, & Lelmut, 2009). Individuals with lymphoma cancer lose weight gradually and are fatigued most of the time.

Treatment

The treatment of lymphoma cancer depends on the extent to which the cancerous cells are spread in the body (Osterman, 2011). Therefore, before treatment starts, various factors must be considered such as health status, the stage of the disease , age, any previous treatments for lymphoma cancer or any other cancer among others (Lymphoma Research Foundation, 2010). While cancer cells cannot be eliminated entirely from the body, treatment aspires to reduce the cancerous cells to dormancy and to the condition of being undetectable. The objective of lymphoma cancer treatment is to achieve permanent remission or at least the one that will last for a long period (Hodgkin’s lymphoma, 2012).

One of the most frequently applied treatment methods is chemotherapy, where chemicals are introduced into the patient’s body. These chemicals characteristically prevent cancerous cells from undergoing cell division. This process acts through damaging the deoxyribonucleic acid proteins, which catalyzes the self-destruction of the cancerous cells (Crosta, 2009). Chemotherapy acts by purposely targeting those cells which depict rapid and abnormally accelerated cell division process. Normal cells that are affected in the process have the affinity to reconstruct after the effects of the chemotherapy unlike cancerous cells, which are unable to recover and thus die. However, chemotherapy is mostly applicable to cases where lymphoma cancer has already metastasized or spread all over the whole body. The severity of the treatment assumes that the body is given sufficient time to recover from each session. Thus, chemotherapy treatment chemotherapy is administered in predefined phases and not at a single treatment session. Consequently, chemotherapy is often integrated with other treatment methods which are aimed at mitigating the effects of the treatment while aiding in the remission process (Bardia & Seifter, 2011).

Additionally, another form of treatment of lymphoma is radiation, where radiotherapy in the form of high energy radiation rays is focused in a localized area that is infected. Radiotherapy acts by destroying the basic molecules forming the cancerous cells. It leads the cancer cells to self-destruction. This treatment utilizes high energy gamma rays emitted from radioactive metals such as radium; alternatively, radiation emitting equipment may be used, such as x-ray machines with high energy radiation rays (American Cancer society, 2012). Significantly, radiation is used as treatment aimed at shrinking a tumor or for the purpose of destruction of cancerous cells. Meanwhile, this type of treatment is administered alongside other treatments aimed at mitigating the side effects of the radiotherapy; while at the same time adding to the healing process (Acton, 2011).

Radiation has similar side effects to those found in patients undergoing chemotherapy for the treatment of lymphoma cancer. These side effects include vomiting, nausea, fatigue, suntan or sunburn, and diarrhea. Weight loss and loss of appetite are prevalent in cases of radiotherapy; however, after some time these side effects disappear completely (Crosta, 2009). The use of chemotherapy may result in the destruction of the cancerous cells and the bone marrow. Since the bone marrow is critical for the production of lymphocytes important for white blood cells, a bone marrow transplant may be required. The bone marrow transplant aims at rejuvenating the production of healthy lymphocytes (AACC, 2011). This is usually done where stem cells are harvested before the chemotherapy process and subsequently introduced back into the body after the completion of chemotherapy.

Conclusion

While these treatment methods are available, prevention of the disease is the optimal option. In spite of the fact that root causes of the disease are unknown, it is critical that any aspects and activities that may contribute to causing lymphoma cancer be avoided. Therefore, risky behavior such as exposure to carcinogens or diseases that affect the immune system should be avoided at all costs. As a result, the provision of lymphoma cancer information to the public is crucial. This is explained by the fact that many individuals who did not have enough information on the causes and preventive measures of this type of cancer are affected by the disease. Therefore, while researchers and doctors continue to seek the cause of lymphoma, it is essential that people take certain precautionary measures to avoid infection. Hence, the availability of information on lymphoma, its causes, symptoms and treatment methods is critical in a world influenced by changing lifestyles, pollution, and environmental degradation.

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