Lymphoma in the real sense means “lymph node swelling”. This may be due to a harmless infection or inflammatory process or a malignant disease. In everyday usage, the term lymphoma is mainly used for the latter: it is understood as a malignant disease of the lymphatic system.
Lymphomas are caused by pathologically altered lymphocytes, a form of white blood cells. They can settle on different parts of the body and cause discomfort. Lymphomas are not uniform clinical pictures, there are about 100 different sub-forms with sometimes very different course.
Lymphomas are rare compared to other cancers (such as breast cancer, colon cancer or lung cancer). They can occur at any age, but are found predominantly in (higher) adulthood. In children, the disease sometimes proceeds differently, and the treatment options also differ; the available information relates purely to lymphomas in adulthood.
What is the lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system (lymphatic system) is part of the body’s defense system. It consists of the lymphatic pathways, as well as organs that contain lymphatic tissue. These include the lymph nodes, lymphoid tissue is also found in the bone marrow, spleen, gastrointestinal tract, and throat.
The lymphatic pathways run parallel to the blood vessels through the whole body. They take up the so-called lymph from the interstices of the cells and transport waste products of metabolism, as well as foreign bodies, pathogens and dead cells to the venous system.
In this way, the lymph also flows through the lymph nodes. Harmful substances are filtered out and combated there. This task is performed by the so-called lymphocytes, a subgroup of white blood cells.
What are lymphomas and why do they arise?
Lymphomas are understood as various malignant tumors that develop from cells of the lymphatic system. In principle, a distinction is made between so-called non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas and Hodgkin’s disease. The causes of the occurrence of these cancers of the lymphatic system are still insufficiently elucidated. However, certain carcinogens, such as ionizing radiation, chemicals, insecticides, wood preservatives and benzene, favor the occurrence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas. Even more often than these carcinogens, chronic infections are likely to be responsible for the development of lymphomas. Thus, certain gastric bacteria (Helicobacter pylori) can lead to the appearance of MALT lymphomas. These are regressive in the early stage due to antibiotic therapy. Epstein-Barr viruses lead to aggressive lymphomas, especially in patients with AIDS, but are also likely to be partly responsible for the development of other lymph gland cancers, such as Hodgkin’s disease.
Warning signs, symptoms and complaints of lymphoma
The most important symptoms often include a swelling of the lymph glands, preferably in the area of the cervical lymph glands, but also the axillary or inguinal region and a number of clinical symptoms. Fatigue, fatigue and poor performance are often in the foreground. An increased susceptibility to infection is found in certain lymphomas, and bouts of fever, especially night sweats, may indicate the diagnosis. In a part of the patients there is a loss of appetite and weight loss. This is most often a prognostically unfavorable sign. In certain lymphomas, such as Hodgkin’s disease, excruciating itching can occur, in this type of lymphoma, in rare cases, pain occurs in affected lymph gland regions after drinking alcohol.
What is the main cause of lymphoma?
Is lymphoma a serious cancer?
What are the warning signs of lymphoma?
Is lymphoma considered a cancer?