Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Cure Is Possible - Lymphomas can start almost anywhere in the body, but with modern advances in diagnosis, imaging studies and availability of targeted drugs, the outlook for patients has improved tremendously
Lymphomas are cancers originating from the lymphatic cells of the immune system, typically seen as solid tumours. The lymphatic system is part of the body's immune system and helps fight infections and other diseases. Because lymphatic tissue is found in many parts of the body, lymphomas can start almost anywhere. In 1832, Thomas Hodgkin, a British pathologist published the first description of lymphoma, a specific form which is named after him as 'Hodgkin Lymphoma'. Since then many other forms of lymphoma have been described, all grouped under a single label 'non-Hodgkin lymphoma'.However, the latest lymphoma classification by the WHO (2008) considers the ancient arrangement obsolete because the different lymphomas grouped under NHL have very little in common with each other. Hence the NHL label is slowly being abandoned considering its minimal relevance.
Causes and Risk Factors
The cause of this cancer is unknown for most patients. However, lymphomas may develop in people with a weakened immune system such as in organ transplant patients on immunosuppressive drugs or HIV infection. Certain viruses such as HTLV-1 (Human T Cell Leukemia/ Lymphoma Virus), hepatitis C, and Epstein-Barr virus seem to directly affect the DNA of the lymphocytes and help transform them into cancer cells. Helicobacter pylori, a type of bacteria known to precipitate stomach ulcers causes chronic immune system stimulation and has been associated with Mucosa Associated Lymphoid Tissue (MALT) lymphoma of the stomach. Although NHL can affect all age groups, the chance of developing this disease increases with age.
They may vary depending on the location of the tumour in the body. The most common symptoms are enlarged painless lymph nodes in the armpit, neck or in the groin. Others include fever, night sweats, weight loss, breathlessness and abdominal distention.
Biopsy samples are sent for histopathological examination. Other tests like immunohistochemistry, now cytometry and cytogenetics are essential to establish a definite diagnosis. Immunohistochemistry is the method by which we can examine the cells and determine what antigens are expressed on the surface of the cells by using antibodies that bind to those antigens.
We can also determine how Stem cells removed from donor strongly those antigens are expressed. This will help determine the type of lymphoma with a far greater accuracy, which will aid the treating physician to decide on appropriate treatment and management.
Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) testing is used to look for specific changes in a chromosome such as trans-location and to visualise specific genes or portion of genes aiming at a more accurate diagnosis. Imaging studies like CT scan, Gallium scan and PET scan are useful tools in detecting and monitoring the disease. One must understand that none of these scans can diagnose NHL without histopathological evidence.
Treatment for Lymphoma Cancer at World Class Cancer Hospital in India
Antibodies are proteins made by the body's immune system to help fight infections. Monoclonal antibodies are man made substitutes designed to attack a specific target, on the surface of lymphocytes.
Several monoclonal antibodies are being used now to treat NHL:
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