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Lymphoma : Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Lymphoma is a cancer that occurs in the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are organs of the body that function to maintain the body's resistance and protect the body from bacterial infections.

Lymph nodes in the human body are found in various other places in the neck, armpit, groin, tonsils, spleen, and bone marrow. Therefore, the symptoms of lymphoma can vary, depending on which location is affected.

Types of Lymphoma

This cancer can be categorized into 2 types, namely Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The main difference lies in the type of lymphocyte cells that are attacked by cancer and can be known through examination under a microscope.

Lymphoma is classified in the Hodgkin type when abnormal Reed-Sternberg cells are detected during examination. While lymphoma without abnormal cells is included in the category of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is more common than Hodgkin's lymphoma. It is estimated that only about 20 percent of lymphoma cases are of the Hodgkin type.

Causes of lymphoma

The cause of lymphoma is unknown. But there are several conditions that cause a person more at risk of developing lymphoma, namely:

  • Experiencing immune disorders, such as those with autoimmune diseases or people with HIV / AIDS
  • Taking immunosuppressant drugs (drugs that suppress the body's resistance) after organ transplantation
  • Infected with the Ebstein Batt virus
  • Has a family history of lymphoma
  • Smokers or often exposed to cigarette smoke

Diagnosis of lymphoma

Determination of lymphoma diagnosis is established through a series of examinations needed to ensure lymphoma disease includes:

  • A thorough physical examination by a doctor
  • Blood test
  • Biopsy (the act of taking part or all of the abnormal lymph node tissue) to be examined with a microscope
  • Radiological examination, such as x-rays, ultrasound, CT scan or MRI
  • Bone marrow aspiration

Lymphoma Stadium

Biopsies, X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and PET scans can also help determine the stage and level of lymphoma development. The following is a brief explanation for the stages in lymphoma.

  • Stage 1 - cancer attacks one of the lymph gland groups.
  • Stage 2 - cancer attacks 2 groups of lymph nodes or spreads to 1 organ around the lymph gland, but only limited to the upper or lower body, with the diaphragm as a limitation.
  • Stage 3 - cancer spreads to the lymph gland groups in the upper body and lower body parts, with the diaphragm as a limitation.
  • Stage 4 - cancer has spread through the lymphatic system and into various organs or bone marrow.

Symptoms of lymphoma

There are several symptoms of lymphoma that are often encountered, namely:

  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or groin
  • Prolonged fever for no apparent reason
  • Feel tired and lethargic
  • Excessive sweating at night
  • Weight loss drops
  • Hard to breathe
  • Abdominal pain
  • Coughing continuously for no apparent reason

Treatment of Lymphoma

Treatment of lymphoma is not the same for each sufferer. The best treatment method is determined based on the health condition, age, type and stage of the patient's lymphoma.

Especially for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, not all cases require immediate medical treatment. If the cancer is a type that is slow to develop, the doctor may suggest waiting and seeing the development first. There is even a small-scale, early-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma that can be treated through a surgical procedure when a biopsy is performed, so that the patient does not need further treatment.

The main step in treating lymphoma is by chemotherapy which can be given by infusion or in the form of drugs taken. This therapy can also be combined with:

  • Radiotherapy.
  • Steroid drugs.
  • Biologic therapy, for example the rituximab drug. This drug will attach itself to cancer cells and then stimulate the immune system to attack and kill it.
  • Bone marrow transplant. This step is needed for people with lymphoma who have damaged bone marrow due to high-dose chemotherapy.

As with other cancer treatments, lymphoma treatment also has side effects. Some side effects commonly experienced by sufferers include fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

In addition, a decrease in the immune system, the risk of infertility, and the potential for other cancers can also be complications of lymphoma as well as side effects of treatment. The risk of other diseases can also increase, for example heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, or cataracts.

Make sure the patient has regular health checks, during and after treatment. This step is done so that the patient's health condition and possible recurrence of cancer can be monitored.

Prevention of lymphoma

There is no thing that can definitely prevent someone from experiencing lymphoma. HIV / AIDS is a disease that increases a person's risk of developing lymphoma.

Therefore, by preventing yourself from experiencing HIV / AIDS (avoiding free sex and avoiding injecting drug use), the risk of developing lymphoma will also be lower.



1. Australian Government. Cancer Australia. (2012). Lymphoma Fact sheet.

2. Matasar, MJ, Zelenetz, AD. (2008). Overview of lymphoma diagnosis and management.

3. Mayo Clinic (2017). Diseases and Conditions. Hodgkin’s vs Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: What’s the Difference?

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Is a health and wellness enthusiast. In him free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.