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Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

For ages now, whether it’s a patient or an attending physician, the diagnosis of Non Hodgkin Lymphoma brings a sense of fatality, with a fear that survival with the disease is not possible. However, thanks to the recent advances in Medical Science, the disease is now curable, with the fear of death slowly taking a form of myth.

Simply put, Lymphoma is a type of cancer involving cells of the immune system, called lymphocytes. Lymphoma can develop when there is the uncontrolled growth of lymphocytes. These abnormal lymphocytes travel to different parts of body especially they get collected and dwell in bean shaped organs called Lymph nodes. These cause lymph nodes to swell and increase in size. Broadly, lymphomas comprise Hodgkin’s lymphoma (HL) and Non- Hodgkin’s based on the pathology of blood cells. If the pathology reveals a specific type of abnormal cell called a Reed-Sternberg cell, the lymphoma is classified as Hodgkin’s, while if the Reed-Sternberg cell is not present, the lymphoma is classified as non-Hodgkin.

Regardless of the type, recent advancements in cancer research have not only increased the survival rates but also lowered side effects, which have improved the overall quality of life of lymphoma patients. Today, Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma has a cure rate of 60-70%, which is amongst the highest in cancer disorders. However, again early Diagnosis and prompt treatment is the key.

The basic issue comes with catching the early symptoms of the disease. The symptoms of Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma are vague and may mimic other viral diseases. However, if the symptoms persist for longer duration then consult your doctor without further delay. Some of the common symptoms of the disease include.

  • Painless swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin area that does not go away within a few weeks.
  • Unexplained fever that does not go away.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Night sweats, usually drenching.
  • Pruritus, a generalized itching that may be severe.
  • Shortness of breath, cough, or chest discomfort may be caused if lymph nodes in the chest are affected.

Diagnosis : Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is diagnosed by following tests:

Lymph Node Biopsy: Small part or whole of swollen lymph node is scanned under microscope

Bone Marrow Biopsy: Small sample of bone Marrow which is spongy tissue under bone is removed and scanned under microscope.

Speaking about the role of prompt and proper diagnosis for timely intervention to treat Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. A Lymph node biopsy is mandatory for correct diagnosis and it is a myth that lymphoma spreads by biopsy. Every lymphoma patient needs to get an immune-histochemistry (IHC) test on biopsy sample for accurate diagnosis.

Staging : Lymphoma staging is a way to detect the lymphoma spread in our body . Following tests done for staging

1 CT Scan

2.PET Scan

Right Treatment of Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma depends on type and stage of lymphoma.

Treatment: We treat lymphoma by the following ways :

1 Chemotherapy: It is a medical term for medicines that kills the cancer cells. All patients will require this treatment.

2.Immunotherapy: Kill Cancer Cells without effecting normal body cells (Targeted Therapy).

3 Radiotherapy is given in early staged disease and large bulky sites

4.BMT(Bone marrow transplant) is advised to high-risk Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and those who have recurrence of illness.