Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Lymphoma Treatment?
Our hospital is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and our medical team is comprised of specialists with years or even decades of professional experience, which guarantees a favorable outcome if you decide to choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for the treatment of lymphoma. While there is no cure for cancer, our medical professionals will help you keep your disease under control with the latest treatments available for lymphoma. Since 1969, we have been providing quality healthcare to the community of Los Angeles and are bound to do the same for you if you struggle with cancer.
Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is a part of the defense mechanism of the body against infections and diseases. The lymphatic system includes the lymph nodes, the spleen, the thymus gland, and the bone marrow. This cancer may affect some or all of these areas of the body and can also spread to vital organs. Every year, nearly 80,000 people in the United States receive a diagnosis of lymphoma. Because lymph nodes are present in numerous parts of the body, lymphoma can start almost anywhere. Normal lymph nodes are tiny structures that trap cells that contain poisons and waste materials. Lymph, the fluid that can be found in lymph nodes, allows white blood cells to circulate. When white blood cells multiply abnormally, they cause tumors to form and, as a consequence, lymph nodes become enlarged.
Depending on the type of lymphoma cells and on how they affect lymph nodes and chromosomes, this cancer can be graded as low, intermediate, and high. Lymphoma that is low-grade grows so slowly that people can live for many years without symptoms, although some may experience pain from enlarged lymph nodes. Intermediate-grade lymphoma progresses fairly rapidly without treatment, whereas with treatment, remission occurs in between 50% and 75% of cases. Finally, high-grade lymphoma progresses rapidly regardless of stage. Consequently, for the benefit of the patient, it must be treated aggressively. Annually, approximately 20,000 people lose their lives to lymphoma in the United States.
The lymphoma treatment you will receive depends on the grade of cancer, the stage of the disease, the type of lymphoma, whether it has spread to adjacent organs, your general health, and your preferences. However, in the majority of cases, people with lymphoma are given radiotherapy, which entails delivering beams of intense energy to destroy malignant cells. Radiotherapy is the most effective treatment for people with stage 1 or stage 2 lymphoma. Nevertheless, if lymphoma is diagnosed in late stages, the patient will receive a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Chemotherapy implies a drug administered in the form of a pill or injection whose purpose is to prevent malignant tumors from further spreading. The most effective chemotherapy drugs for lymphoma at the moment are the following:
It is worthy of note that, for people with advanced lymphoma, the chemotherapy drug will be administered along with one or more immunotherapy drugs, usually rituximab. If your lymphoma is low-grade, meaning that it develops slowly, active surveillance may be recommended by your oncologist, which entails going to regular appointments to see how much cancer has grown and how far it has spread. Bone marrow transplant is another treatment option for people whose lymphoma has severely damaged this part of their nervous system. A bone marrow transplant, also known as a stem cell transplant, involves using high doses of chemotherapy and radiation to decrease the size of your bone marrow. Subsequently, healthy bone marrow stem cells from your body or from a donor are injected into your blood, which will then travel to your bones and rebuild your bone marrow.
There are over 70 types of lymphoma, ranging from indolent to highly aggressive. However, lymphoma is grouped into 2 categories, namely non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. While the former is the most common type, with more than 30 subtypes, the latter is quite rare. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma accounts for 4% of all cancer cases in the United States. The following are some of the most aggressive subtypes of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma:
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma tends to occur in older adults. Hodgkin’s lymphoma usually begins in a type of B cell that is present in the bone marrow. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is one of the most curable forms of cancer, particularly if it is diagnosed and treated early. Pinpointing the exact type and subtype of lymphoma is extremely important for receiving the most effective treatment, which will guarantee a favorable prognosis, as well as enhance your life quality. For this reason, people with lymphoma must undergo multiple diagnostic tests and exams so that their oncologist can determine the specific type and subtype of their malignant disease.
Symptoms of Lymphoma
The symptoms a patient with lymphoma experiences depends on the location of their cancer, as well as on the type of lymphoma they are struggling with. Nonetheless, the following are the most common symptoms of lymphoma, regardless of the type:
Diagnosis of Lymphoma
The diagnostic process begins with your physician asking you about the symptoms you are experiencing. They will subsequently look at your medical history, conduct a physical exam during which they will look for enlarged lymph nodes, liver, or spleen, and then order some of the following tests and exams, whose purpose is to determine whether you have lymphoma or another health condition:
- blood tests: because the number of white blood cells, platelets, and red blood cells may become low when lymphoma spreads to the bone marrow, blood test are a great tool in assessing whether a patient has lymphoma and they can also show how the liver and the kidneys are functioning
- lymph node biopsy: a portion of a lymph node or the entire lymph node will be surgically removed and subsequently sent to a laboratory to be analyzed by a pathologist, who will determine whether there are malignant cells in it
- bone marrow aspiration and biopsy: a thin needle is inserted into the hip bone to remove a tiny amount of liquid bone marrow so it can be examined under a microscope, a procedure which is usually carried out after lymphoma had already been diagnosed to determine whether cancer has spread to the bone marrow
- lumbar puncture: during this test, a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid, which surrounds the brain and spinal cord, will be collected so that it can be examined for the presence of lymphoma cells
- chest X-ray: undergoing chest X-ray may show enlarged lymph nodes in your chest area
- CT scan of the body: this imaging test is performed to detect enlarged lymph nodes or organs and abnormalities in the abdomen, pelvis, chest, head, and neck
- bone scan: during this test, a radioactive isotope known as technetium-99m is injected into a vein and subsequently travels to damaged areas of bone, this test is usually performed if the patient is experiencing bone pain
- abdominal ultrasound: by using this test, your physician can see whether your lymph nodes in your abdomen, as well as your organs, are enlarged
- MRI scan: similarly to a CT scan, this imaging test can show whether there are enlarged lymph nodes or organs in your body
At the moment, the cause of lymphoma is unknown. However, medical specialists believe that it occurs when a white blood cell that has the purpose of fighting diseases, medically known as a lymphocyte, develops a genetic mutation. The mutation allows the cells to continue living when other normal cells would die. This causes too many ineffective lymphocytes in your lymph nodes and results in the lymph nodes, spleen, and liver being swollen. There are some risk factors that are associated with the development of lymphoma, such as the following:
- age: the majority of cases of lymphoma occur in people who are over the age of 60
- gender: men are more susceptible to developing lymphoma than women
- bacterial infections: some subtypes of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma were found to have a connection with certain infections, such as infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori
- viruses: viruses are the cause of some subtypes of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, such as the Epstein-Barr virus, which leads to the development of mononucleosis
- immune deficiency disorders: immune system disorders such as HIV or AIDS increase the risk of coming to struggle with lymphoma, particularly with the aggressive B-cell lymphomas
- organ transplantation: because people who undergo organ transplantation are required to take certain medications to reduce immune system function in order to protect the transplanted organ from being rejected, they are more likely to develop lymphoma
- previous cancer treatment: people who underwent treatment for another cancer are at higher risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- chemical exposure: exposure to toxic agents such as pesticides, herbicides, and petrochemicals increases the risk of coming to struggle with lymphoma
- vaccines: a series of studies found a relevant association between Bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccination and a high risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- breast implants: having breast implants increases the risk of developing breast lymphoma
- exposure to ionizing radiation: this refers to exposure to radiation from atomic bombs, nuclear reactor accidents, and medical radiation therapy
- diet and weight: being overweight or having a diet rich in fatty foods or red meat can slightly increase your risk of lymphoma
While the most effective treatment of lymphoma is the standard medical treatment, some people may find the use of complementary therapies helpful in alleviating their symptoms. Some of the most common alternative treatments for lymphoma are chiropractic care, massage, relaxation, and meditation techniques such as mindfulness. Furthermore, people may also want to try herbal remedies such as herbal tea, garlic, Echinacea, or flaxseed.
There is not much you can do to prevent lymphoma, since this malignant disease is usually the result of a genetic mutation. However, if you avoid certain risk factors, your chances of developing lymphoma may lower to a certain extent. Therefore, you should take into account the following to prevent the onset of lymphoma:
- avoiding excessive ionizing radiation exposure
- deciding not to get breast implants
- wearing adequate protective equipment when you are in the presence of toxic agents
- adopting a balanced diet incorporating an abundance of fruits and vegetables and maintaining a healthy weight