There are two main classifications of lymphoma, the Hodgkins lymphoma, named after Thomas Hodgkin who discovered the disease in 1832 and the Non-Hodgkins group which is composed of about 30 types of lymphoma which were discovered by scientist after 1832. All types of lymphoma have different characteristics and behavior although the target of the cancer cells is the same, the lymphatic system. Non-Hodgkins lymphoma is rather a large group and is further classified into two types, the slow growing or the low-grade type and the aggressive or the high-grade type.
Low Grade Lymphoma
Low-grade lymphoma grows very slowly and often times do not manifest any symptoms at all in the early stages. Low grade are usually in the advanced stage before the patient starts to have symptoms and eventually consult a doctor regarding his or her health concerns. In some cases, slow growing lymphoma is discovered by accident during routine check ups like blood test and X-rays.
In these instances, abnormalities could be detected in the lymph nodes of the patient although the patient does not really feel anything wrong in his or her body. It should always be remembered that Non-Hodgkins lymphoma does may cause swelling in the lymph nodes but these swelling re usually non-painful and could easily be dismissed by the patient as nothing more than just a little swelling.
In cases where suspicious swelling in the lymph nodes is detected and the doctor suspects that the patient has low grade or slow growing lymphoma, further test should be conducted to ascertain the real situation of the patient. There are many reasons why the lymph nodes could be irritated and would swell therefore it is not conclusive that having swollen lymph nodes is a symptom of lymphoma.
Definitive testing of the existence of lymphoma should be conducted to ascertain whether simple infection or other forms of disease or if it is indeed a sign of lymphoma cause the swelling of the lymph nodes. Where the test results would show that the patient is positive with lymphoma, the status of the cancer will be graded. Grading means the process of ascertaining the stage of the lymphoma in the patients body.
In grading the lymphoma, a documentation of the patients histology should be taken. The patient will also be subjected to physical examination, blood tests, chest X-ray, CT scans, Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the chest, abdomen and pelvis and a bone marrow biopsy. These tests are necessary since lymphoma is a systemic disease that affects the entire body.
The cancer attacks the lymphocytes, which can be found in the white blood cells of a person, which has access to all parts of the body.
Since lymphocytes are mobile, there is a big chance that lymphoma cancer cells can easily be transported to different parts of the body. Slow growing lymphomas are known to for its lack of symptoms at an early stage. Swelling of lymph nodes are non-painful and could easily be missed so it is imperative that thorough search should be conducted for tell tale signs of abnormal cells. By conducting a thorough search in the persons system, lurking cancer cells could be spotted and their growth arrested.