Lymphoma is the most common blood cancer. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that are part of our body’s immune system and help our body fight infections. Lymphoma occurs when these lymphocytes grow and multiply uncontrollably. The body has two main types of lymphocytes, B-lymphocytes (B-cells) and T-lymphocytes (T-cells). B-cell lymphoma occurs when the B-cells in particular grow into lymphomas. The cancerous lymphocyte cells can then travel to various parts of the body including the lymph nodes, blood, spleen, bone marrow and other organs. There are many different types of B-cell lymphomas and the most common type is called diffuse large b-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) which is aggressive (fast-growing) and requires immediate treatment. There are other forms that are slow-growing and respond well to treatment and can go into remission for many years. Genetic factors as well as environmental factors, weak immune system (immunodeficiency due to an organ transplant or HIV/AIDS), drug and chemical exposures, viruses and other unknown factors are thought to play a role in the development of lymphoma.
Symptoms are variable but can include: swollen lymph glands, fevers, night sweats, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, pain or abdominal bloating, chest pain, cough, difficulty breathing. Diagnosis may include physical exam of the lymph nodes, spleen and liver, blood tests, x-rays, scans, and finally a biopsy from lymph tissue. The treatment and prognosis or outlook depends upon the specific type of B-cell lymphoma and other factors present but often includes radiation, chemotherapy and medications. Speak with your physician for the most current treatment options. Support groups are also a great resource for support and information and can help connect you to other individuals with B-cell lymphoma.