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Understanding your risk

Like other cancers, your risk depends on many variables including:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Certain infections
  • Lowered immune system
  • Autoimmune conditions

Our Oncology team offers comprehensive cancer risk assessments and hereditary cancer genetics evaluation programs to help you identify your risk.

Symptoms

  • A painless lump in the neck, armpit or groin.
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath

Diagnosing lymphoma

If you visit your physician about a persistent lump or other relevant systems, they will begin by  performing a medical history check and physical exam. They will closely examine the lymph nodes and other areas of the body that are a part of the lymphatic system.

If your doctor decides there is reason for further examination, they will order the following tests:

Blood test

A blood test may be used, not to detect lymphoma, but to determine if the cause of the swelling or symptoms is due to an infection. Antibiotics are usually prescribed to see if the symptoms go away after a few weeks. If the swelling still remains, the only way to test for lymphoma is a biopsy of the affected area.

Biopsy

Depending on the circumstances, a doctor will either remove a piece of the node or the entire mass. The tissue will be examined under a microscope and other lab tests will be performed to determine if the patient has lymphoma.

Types of lymphoma 

Hodgkin lymphoma:

The disease starts when the DNA of white blood cells becomes damaged and can result in uncontrolled reproduction if left untreated. These cells begin to grow and form masses in areas of the lymphatic system.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma:

This disease affects B cells (a type of lymphatic white blood cell), T cells (cells that form in the bone marrow) and NK cells (natural killer cells that fight viruses and tumors). Most non-Hodgkin lymphoma affects B cells which help fight infections. The disease causes the cells to grow out of control and crowd out normal white blood cells. This drastically weakens the body’s immune system. This type is the more common of the two types.

Treatment

Treatment for lymphoma will depend on the type of cancer, the stage and your overall health. However, the most common types of treatment include:

  • Chemotherapy: chemicals administered as a pill or IV to kill and slow the growth of cancer cells
  • Radiation therapy: high-powered beams of energy, such as X-rays and protons, that are used to kill and slow the growth of cancer cells
  • Targeted and Immunotherapy: drugs that attack specific abnormalities within cancer cells or by directing your immune system to kill cancer cells

Medical care and help

To find a lymphoma specialist near you, visit our providers page.

Contact us if you have any questions.