Non-Hodgkin lymphoma begins when a lymphocyte, usually a B cell, becomes abnormal. The abnormal cell then starts to divide to replicate itself. The new cells divide repeatedly making more abnormal cells. These abnormal cells don’t die when they should, and don’t protect the body from infections or other diseases. The buildup of extra cells often forms a growth or tumor.
Some symptoms to look out for are night sweats, swollen lymph nodes, loss of appetite, fever, chest pain, coughing, weakness and fatigue that does not disappear, swelling of the abdomen or feeling of fullness. Sometimes these symptoms are not cancer related. If symptoms persist beyond two weeks, you should consult a doctor. Your doctor will do a physical exam to check for swollen lymph nodes in your neck, the doctor also checks for swollen spleen, and liver.
A blood test will show whether there is an increase in white blood cells, a decrease in platelets, and other cells and substances such as lactate dehydrogenase, which lymphoma can cause a higher level of LDH in the underarms and groin.
A chest x-ray will be performed at this time as well, along with a biopsy. The only sure way to confirm lymphoma is by a biopsy. The doctor may order a excisional biopsy ( an entire lymph node) or an incisional biopsy (part of a lymph node). Removing the entire lymph node is best which can then be examined under a microscope.
There are many types of lymphoma, the most common types are diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, and follicular lymphoma.
Lymphoma is classified by how fast they grow. Indolent or low-grade lymphomas grow slowly, and cause few symptoms. Aggressive or intermediate-grade and high grade are fast growing and spreading lymphomas. They cause severe symptoms, and indolent lymphomas can quickly turn into aggressive lymphomas. It is always good to get a second opinion and advice about treatment.
My experience about this deadly disease through watching my mother wasting away and finally passing from it was disturbing to say the least. This type of cancer does not spread itself in the brain, but it does affect the brain. Although my mother also had dementia as well as lymphoma her long-term memories stayed quite clear. Her short-term memory was more affected.
Near the end of her aggressively spreading lymphoma she slept most of the time. Although this disease took the life of my mother, her spirits were high, and she never complained about the pain she was in, and it was severe pain. She was a Christian woman who practised her faith up to the end of her life.