Lymphoma affects white blood cells, also known as leukocytes. Therefore, to better understand the characteristics of Lymphoma symptoms it is important to understand the nature and roles of the leukocytes in human organism.
The blood contains three main types of cells: red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. All these cells are produced by the bone marrow, which is in the flat bones: pelvis, sternum, cranium, ribs, vertebrae and scapulae, as well as in the cancellous bone, the spongy material found at the ends of long bones (femur and humerus). Each type of cells plays different functions harmoniously with each other – red blood cells transports oxygen to the organs: heart, lungs, muscles, and others; platelets provide blood coagulation in case of wound; and as for the white blood cells, their role is to defend the body against external aggressions.
Three Types of White Blood Cells
Human natural defense is largely ensured by white blood cells, also called leukocytes; they are agents that assure the security of the body. Each liter of blood contains on average 4 to 10 billion white blood cells. Among the white blood cells can be distinguished the following subtypes:
- Granulocytes – they are polymorphonuclear leukocytes made of small granules containing proteins, which digest microorganisms. Their main role is to defend the body against microbes.
- Monocytes – They are produced and released by the bone marrow, and circulate in the blood for about 24 hours before migrating to the tissues (lungs, liver…). They work as sentinels of the organism to ward off diseases and infections.
- Lymphocytes – these cells are guarantors of our immunity. They control immune responses of our organism. There are two main types of lymphocytes: B cells, which produce antibodies to attack bacteria and toxins; and T cells which attack body cells themselves when they are damaged by viruses or malignancies (cancers).
Generally, Lymphoma originates in lymphocytes, regardless Hodgkin lymphoma (Hodgkin’s disease) or non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).
What are the symptoms of lymphoma?
Painless swollen glands in the neck, under an arm, or in the groin are the most common of the lymphoma symptoms. In two thirds of cases, lymphoma is characterized by the swelling of a lymph node, palpable in the neck, armpit or groin. It can also manifest as an increase in the volume of the spleen.
Although any swollen gland is not due to lymphoma (but to other medical problems such as infections), it is a sign that should not be neglected. In fact, any persistent swelling of lymph node beyond a month should be examined by a health specialist to perform appropriate diagnostic procedures in order to confirm r rule the lymphoma diagnosis.
Symptoms of lymphoma can also demonstrate in the lymphoid tissue. In some patients, lymphoma does not appear in a node but in a different part of the lymphatic system. The tumor can grow in the lymphoid tissues of the stomach, lungs, thyroid or skin. The lymphoma symptoms can then manifest as a mass in the stomach, breathing problems or eczema. But again, in most cases these symptoms are resulted from less serious condition; only advanced tests can confirm the diagnosis.
Other Lymphoma Symptoms
In addition to these manifestations above, other general lymphoma signs and symptoms can include:
- Relapsing fever,
- Significant weight loss,
- Severe tiredness for no apparent reason,
- Abundant night sweats which can require the change of sleepwear.
It also happens that the cancer is manifested by none of these symptoms and is discovered by chance, during a blood test or a medical exam performed by routine or for another medical condition.