What is lymphoma ?

Lymphoma iare cancers that develop in the lymph system, which is part of the body's immune system. Worldwide, Lymphoma is the most common blood cancer diagnosed in adults and the third most common cancer diagnosed in children. There are two main types of Lymphoma, one type is called Hodgkins Lymphoma; and the other is called Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Under each of them there are subtypes.

Who gets lymphoma? Anyone can get lymphoma, and in Ghana, it is the commonest type of cancer seen at the haematology clinic. Amongst children in Ghana and some other parts of Africa there is a type that is very common called Burkitt's Lymphoma. Burkitt's Lymphoma is a subtype of non-Hodgkins lymphoma and it commonly makes the child's jaw swell very fast, with loosening of the teeth. Occasionally it affects adults too, but usually not the jaw, it may be in the abdomen or elsewhere. What causes lymphoma?
Nobody knows what causes lymphoma. What is known is that contact with certain chemicals like some pesticides, industrial wastes and solvents as well getting certain chronic infections, increase an individual’s chances of developing the disease. How does someone know whether they have lymphoma? Lymphoma usually makes a person's lymph glands swell, this may be in the neck, armpit, groin etc. It often causes fever and night sweats too. Further lymphoma symptoms depend on which areas of the body are affected. . Once the individual gets to hospital, a sample of the swelling will be taken (this is called a biopsy) and examined. The final diagnosis (stating that the individual does have lymphoma) will be given by the pathologist. It is important that the biopsy is done to make the diagnosis because other diseases can also cause swelling of lymph glands How is Lymphoma treated?
Lymphoma may be treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy may also be used, often in combination with chemotherapy. Effectiveness of treatment depends on the particular cell characteristics of the lymphoma, its location, and how much it has spread, as well as the strength of your immune system. Early diagnosis and treatment greatly improves the outcome of the disease. So it is important to report to the hospital as soon as you see any unusual swellings on your body.