In addition to symptoms such as swelling in the lymph nodes, involuntary weight loss, night sweats, fever, and fatigue-weakness, persistent and enlarged lymph nodes that do not regress with treatment can be the harbinger of lymphoma. Lymphoma, especially seen in adolescence or after the age of 55, constitutes 5 percent of all cancer types. The pleasing aspect of lymphoma, one of the most common types of cancer, is that its cure rate is quite high. Acıbadem University Atakent Hospital Hematology Specialist, Physician Lecturer Ant Space points out that immunotherapy, which strengthens the immune system's fight against cancer, and targeted drugs that disrupt the communication of cancerous cells with each other, increase the glimmer of hope even in advanced and challenging patients. So much so that about 75 percent of all Hodgkin lymphoma patients recover. The recovery rate in young patients is about 90 percent.
Hodgkin lymphoma is most common
Lymphomas are a disease with many subgroups! It is divided into two main subgroups, primarily Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (non-Hodgkin lymphoma). However, they also have their own subtypes. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma has at least 40-50 subtypes, and Hodgkin lymphoma has 6-8 subtypes. However, the largest group of lymphomas is non-Hodgkin lymphomas. It is 8 times more common than Hodgkin lymphomas. In 2018, approximately 500 thousand people worldwide were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, while the number of people diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma is estimated to be 80 thousand.
Age is an important risk factor
As with most cancers, the cause of lymphoma is unknown. However, factors such as transmission of some viruses, use of immunosuppressive drugs, AIDS, family history of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, exposure to pesticides and some similar chemicals are listed as risk factors for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The most important factor is advancing age. Three out of four patients are over 55 years old. The average age of patients diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma is 67. Faculty Member Ant Space gives the following information about the Hodgkin type:
“The EBV (Ebstein Bar) virus is thought to be a risk factor in this type of disease. The most common age groups for Hodgkin lymphoma, which is more common in men, are the young population between the ages of 15-35 and adults over the age of 55. So much so that Hodgkin lymphoma is the most common type of cancer between the ages of 15-19.”
Painless swelling is the first symptom
The typical symptom of lymphomas is palpable painless swelling. It is known that enlarged lymph nodes are usually of medium hardness and have a rubbery consistency. Patients notice swelling especially in the neck, armpit or groin area. Enlarged lymph nodes can compress. This can lead to complaints such as shortness of breath, swelling in the face and neck, abdominal pain and swelling in the abdomen. But not every palpable, swollen lymph node means lymphoma. In infections, the lymph nodes swell and shrink after a while. In particular, persistent and enlarged lymph nodes that do not regress with treatment can be a precursor to lymphoma. In addition, fever, night sweats, weight loss of more than 10 percent of body weight in the last six months and severe itching are among the symptoms.
Treatment is determined by the type of disease.
Apart from some rare types, lymphoma is in the group of treatable diseases. The type of lymphoma also determines the treatment route. Lymphomas are graded according to their growth rate. This is important both for the course of the disease and for the treatment decision. Low-grade lymphomas called indolent (silent course) usually do not need to start treatment immediately because they progress slowly. Patients lead their lives with a good quality of life for a long time. For these patients, experts act with a 'wait and watch' approach. Patients are followed closely. The course is more aggressive in moderate and high grade non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cancer can progress rapidly. Therefore, the treatment of this group of patients is started without delay; More intensive and effective treatment methods are preferred.
New methods used in the treatment of lymphoma are increasing the success of treatment. So much so that it can reach 80 percent in all groups. About 75 percent of all hodgkin lymphoma patients recover. The recovery rate in young patients rises to about 90 percent. In the treatment, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted smart drugs, cellular therapies and bone marrow transplantation methods are generally used. And the developments in each method make significant contributions to the success of the treatment of lymphoma, increasing the success of the treatment.
Immunotherapy drugs adhere to lymphoma cells, stimulating the immune system to take action. The immune system, on the other hand, sends the warrior cells, allowing the tumor to shrink at a high rate. Monoclonal antibody therapy, which is used together with chemotherapy, which has an important place in the treatment of lymphoma patients, is another factor that increases success, although it is different for each lymphoma. Noting that side effects have decreased during treatment thanks to new developments, Dr. Ant Space said: "Support that helps the patient to cope with problems such as nausea, infection, weakness, pain that may occur due to the disease itself or the possible side effects of the treatment during the entire disease process and increases the quality of life of the patient. “Treatments are also improving,” he says.