What to look for
Hodgkin's disease, one type
of lymphoma, may cause no symptoms. When symptoms are present, they may include:
swollen lymph nodes.
fever, chills, night
sweats, loss of weight and appetite, persistent fatigue, and general weakness.
The symptoms of
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, in addition to those listed above, include:
swelling or fullness in
the abdomen from an enlarged spleen.
enlarged lymph nodes in
changes in bowel habits
or bleeding from the rectum
nasal congestion, sore
throat, or difficulty swallowing
The lymph system is
responsible for defending the body against infection and is part of the immune system.
This disease affects the
lymph cells or lymphocytes ( a type of white blood cell which fights infections). The
lymphocytes are found in the blood and bone marrow and come together in the lymph nodes in
the neck, armpits, groins, chest and abdomen. These lymph nodes are responsible for
filtering the fluid and initiating the body's immune response.
Occasionally in certain
individuals the lymphocytes can become cancerous and start multiplying out of control.
This causes the nodes to enlarge and swell. Some types of lymphoma begin as a malignant
tumour in a lymph node and spread through to other lymphatic tissue and possibly to organs
outside the lymphatic system.
Left unchecked, the
cancerous cells multiply and eventually replace the healthy lymphocytes, suppressing the
The term lymphoma refers to
a varied group of diseases that range from slow-growing chronic disorders to rapidly
evolving, acute conditions. There are generally two classifications of lymphoma -
Hodgkin's disease, and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas which include all other types besides
Hodgkin's disease tends to
spread from one cluster of lymph nodes to the next. It usually starts in lymph nodes in
the neck or just under the collarbone; spreads into the other nodes later as the disease
There has been a very good
success rate in curing Hodgkin's disease, especially if it is treated early. Non-Hodgkin's
lymphomas are typically more difficult to cure and can normally be controlled for a period
The cause of Hodgkin's
disease is unknown. There may be a genetic link. Some researchers have indicated a virus
may be the cause.
Doctors do not know how to
detect lymphoma before it starts causing symptoms. Swollen lymph nodes in the neck,
armpits, or groin usually indicate its presence.
Doctors can perform blood
or urine tests to determine if the disease is present. And if cancer is found, further
testing can determine how widespread it is.
Radiation and chemotherapy
are the treatments that are usually used for this type of cancer and have proven to be
very successful in eradicating and stopping the disease from spreading.
Since success depends on
high doses of toxic drugs and radiation, treatment frequently results in unpleasant side
effects and can cause residual complications such as infertility.
People who are now in
remission should have regular check ups with their doctor.
The standard treatment for
lymphoma - radiation and drugs can do damage to the immune system. There are benefits in
also seeing a naturopath who can advise on alternative relief as well as techniques to
build up the immune system again.
Rest, relaxation, and good
nutrition are the basis of good health.
The side effects of
chemotherapy and radiation therapy are nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, and
vulnerability to infection. Your doctor can prescribe medication to address some of these
problems. But you can do a number of things to relieve symptoms
Eat light meals.
Avoid dairy products and
sweet, fried, or fatty foods.
Drink plenty of liquids
before and after meals.
If the smell of cooked
food makes you feel nauseated, try eating cold foods.
Rest whenever you feel
the need, but otherwise keep yourself busy with activities that will help take your mind
off the immediate discomfort.
Nobody knows enough about
lymphoma to be able to suggest what to do to prevent it. However, by staying as healthy as
possible may reduce your risk for cancer in general. Standard advice includes eating a
well-balanced diet, keeping your weight in check, trying to reduce stress, exercising
regularly, and getting adequate sleep. All these measures contribute to healthy immune
When to seek further