The most common type of blood cancer is called lymphoma and it affects the lymphatic system, which is a critical part of the immune system. The disease is developed as result of a defect in white blood cells known as lymphocytes, which reproduce and enlarge abnormally, instead of dying and giving space to new cells. There are different types and stages of the lymphoma, which influence symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of the disease.
Phase one lymphoma is classified as early stage lymphoma, and when patients are diagnosed during the first stages, the prognosis is usually more encouraging. Phase one lymphoma means that the disease has affected a minor area of the lymphatic system, there is a low red blood cell settling or erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and there are no B symptoms.
Types of Lymphoma
Lymphoma is classified according to the cells it affects, and the two main types of lymphoma are Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas. The disease affects both men and women and patients of all ages, however, the type of lymphoma also influences the typology of patients. Despite the individual characteristics of each type of cancer, people who suffer from lymphoma and develop solid tumors in parts of the immune system are more likely to be senior patients.
Approximately 90% of all cases of lymphoma are non-Hodgkin’s and it is estimated that about 20 American people in every 100,000 suffer from this type of cancer, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas are also subdivided according to the type of lymphocyte that it affects, either B-cells or T-cells, being the former more common than the latter in the United States.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma, on the other hand, is a more rare disease, affecting about three in every 100,000 people in the U.S. Hodgkin’s lymphoma affects a specific type of lymphocyte called Reed-Sternberg cells. There are numerous subtypes of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, whose differences can be identified under the microscope. Men are more affected by this type of lymphoma than women.
Stages of Lymphoma
The causes for the development of lymphoma are not completely understood, but it affects people and develops differently. One important feature is whether it is an “indolent” lymphoma — which means “slow-growing” — or a fast-growing lymphoma. Lymphomas are classified according to their speed of spreading throughout the immune system and even to secondary sites. There are four main stages of the disease, which include different symptoms and therapeutic approaches.
Stage one lymphoma is diagnosed when the disease has affected only one group of lymph nodes or one organ, while during stage two, two or more lymph node groups or one organ and one group of lymph nodes are affected. These two stages are grouped as early stage lymphoma and the symptoms include swollen and painless lymph nodes, but there are no B symptoms. In addition, there is a low red blood cell settling or erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and no bulky disease.
During stage three lymphoma, the disease is present on both sides of the diaphragm, while in stage four there are already several lymph nodes affected and it has usually spread to body organs. The symptoms that are associated with advanced stages of lymphoma, the B symptoms, include heavy night sweating, fever, and unexplained weight loss. Additional features include bulky disease, extranodal disease, low blood protein levels, low red blood cell levels, high amount of white blood cells called leukocytes and low levels of white blood cells called lymphocytes.
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