Lymphoma can go undetected for years

Lymph gland cancer is often not noticed right away

Everyone has probably had swollen lymph nodes at some point. The cause is usually a harmless infection. But they can also be an indication of lymph gland cancer. The tricky thing: the lymph nodes are then swollen or enlarged, but they don't hurt at all.

A distinction is made between two large groups of lymph gland cancer: Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Lymphoma is when lymph nodes are swollen or enlarged. The majority of those affected (around 85 percent) suffer from the variant non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The following statements refer to the variant non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

What exactly happens in the body with lymph gland cancer?

In this disease, lymphocytes - white blood cells - which play a central role in the immune system, degenerate. They are located in the lymphatic tissue, including the lymph nodes, the spleen, the thymus nodes and the tonsils and tonsils.

As a rule, the disease originates in the lymph nodes. However, since there is lymphoid tissue all over the body, the cancer can start in internal organs as well.

One group of this type of cancer is highly aggressive

According to the course of the disease and prognosis, non-Hodgkin lymphomas are divided into two main groups: low-grade and high-grade lymphomas. Highly malignant (aggressive) non-Hodgkin lymphomas progress rapidly and spread lymphoma cells in the body even in the early stages of the disease. Low-grade lymphomas, on the other hand, grow relatively slowly. If left untreated, non-Hodgkin lymphomas - especially the highly malignant forms - are usually fatal. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), which is a low-grade lymphoma and usually occurs in older people, usually progresses so slowly, even without treatment, that many patients die with their disease rather than their disease, explains the German Cancer Society .

What are typical symptoms?

Classical with this type of lymph gland cancer are painless lymph node enlargements. This is due to the multiplication of lymphocytes or the accumulation of cells that are foreign to the lymph node.

One of the characteristics of lymphomas is that they do not cause any specific and sometimes very mild symptoms. Possible symptoms can be:

  • Fatigue,
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Nausea,
  • Heartburn,
  • an increased susceptibility to infection.

Fever, night sweats or weight loss are less common.

What are the causes?

The number of new cases each year in Germany is estimated at ten to 15 per 100,000 people. Lymphatic cancer can have various causes. The likelihood of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma increases with age. One possible cause is therefore mutations in the genetic material, which increase in older people. The mutation can activate genes that promote unchecked cell growth. Further risk groups are people infected with HIV at an advanced stage, people with chronic inflammation of the gastric mucosa and patients with congenital or acquired immunodeficiency. You are at an increased risk of developing lymphatic cancer.

There is currently no evidence that non-Hodgkin lymphoma is inherited or genetic.

How is the disease treated?

In some cases, therapy is dispensed with. And then when the disease progresses very slowly and the patient has minor symptoms. However, there is a close inspection of the sick person. In the case of aggressively progressing lymphomas, on the other hand, therapy must always begin immediately.

Radiotherapy and chemotherapy are widely used for treatment. A combination of both methods is possible. Antibody therapy is now also being used. Special antibodies recognize the typical surface structure of cancer cells and can switch them off. In some cases, this therapy is also carried out in combination with chemotherapy.

Further treatment methods are currently the subject of clinical studies. You can find more information on this on the Lymphoma Competence Network's website.

Important NOTE: The information is in no way a substitute for professional advice or treatment by trained and recognized doctors. The contents of t-online cannot and must not be used to independently make diagnoses or start treatments.

More on the topics

  • Health,
  • Lymph nodes,
  • Chemotherapy,
  • Leukemia,
  • Radiotherapy,
  • Diseases,
  • Therapy,
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma,
  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Lymphoma