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Lymphoma is a type of cancer that may occur when a malfunction occurs in the way a lymphocyte is produced, resulting in an abnormal cell. These abnormal cells can accumulate by two mechanisms:
- They can duplicate faster than normal cells
- They can live longer than normal lymphocytes.
Like normal lymphocytes, the cancerous lymphocytes can grow in many parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow, blood, or other organs. There are two main types of cancer of the lymphatic system. One is called Hodgkin's disease
; the other is called non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
Signs and Symptoms
The most common presentation of lymphoma is usually a painless swelling of lymph nodes that often occurs in the neck or under the arms. Some people may also experience swelling of lymph nodes in other parts of the body. For example, enlarged lymph nodes in the groin can cause a swelling in the legs or ankles, while enlarged lymph nodes in the abdomen can cause abdominal discomfort or a feeling of bloating. Less commonly, patients with lymphoma may present without swollen lymph nodes. Other patient complaints that may indicate the presence of lymphoma can include fever, unexplained weight loss, sweating (often at night), chills, a lack of energy, or itching. There is usually no pain involved, especially when the lymphoma is in the early stage of development.
Tests are available to evaluate lymphoma such as:
- Imaging tests such as x-ray, CT scan, MRI, lymphangiogram, Gallium scan and positron emission tomography (PET) scan
- Blood test
- Bone marrow examination
- Cerebrospinal fluid examination.
Visit our Health Library to learn more about Hodgkin's disease
or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma