Lymphoma: A Group of Blood Cancers
The name often refers to just the cancerous versions rather than all such tumors. Signs and symptoms may include enlarged lymph nodes, fever, drenching sweats, unintended weight loss, itching, and constantly feeling tired. The enlarged lymph nodes are usually painless. The sweats are most common at night. The two main categories of lymphomas are Hodgkin's lymphomas (HL) and the non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHL).
Risk factors for Hodgkin lymphoma include infection with Epstein–Barr virus and a history of the disease in the family. Risk factors for common types of non-Hodgkin lymphomas include autoimmune diseases, HIV/AIDS, infection with human T-lymphotropic virus, immunosuppressant medications, and some pesticides. Diagnosis, if enlarged lymph nodes are present, is usually by lymph node biopsy. Blood, urine, and bone marrow testing may also be useful in the diagnosis. Medical imaging may then be done to determine if and where the cancer has spread.
Treatment may involve one or more of the following: chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and surgery. In some non-Hodgkin lymphomas, an increased amount of protein produced by the lymphoma cells causes the blood to become so thick that plasmapheresis is performed to remove the protein. Lymphoma is definitively diagnosed by a lymph node biopsy, meaning a partial or total excision of a lymph node examined under the microscope. This examination reveals histopathological features that may indicate lymphoma. After lymphoma is diagnosed, a variety of tests may be carried out to look for specific features characteristic of different types of lymphoma. These include:
• Flow cytometry
• Fluorescence in situ hybridization testing
Lymphomas in the strict sense are any neoplasms of the lymphatic tissues (lympho- + -oma). The main classes are malignant neoplasms (that is, cancers) of the lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that belongs to both the lymph and the blood and pervades both. Thus, lymphomas and leukemias are both tumors of the hematopoietic and lymphoid tissues, and as lymphoproliferative disorders, lymphomas and lymphoid leukemias are closely related, to the point that some of them are unitary disease entities that can be called by either name (for example adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma). After a diagnosis and before treatment, a cancer is staged. This refers to determining if the cancer has spread, and if so, whether locally or to distant sites. Staging is reported as a grade between I (confined) and IV (spread). Staging is carried out because the stage of a cancer impacts its prognosis and treatment.
The two types of lymphoma research are clinical or translational research and basic research. Clinical/translational research focuses on studying the disease in a defined and generally immediately applicable way, such as testing a new drug in people. Studies may focus on effective means of treatment, better ways of treating the disease, improving the quality of life for people, or appropriate care in remission or after cures. Hundreds of clinical trials are being planned or conducted at any given time.
Journal of Clinical Oncology and Cancer Research,