Lymphosarcomais a general term applied to disorders of lymphatic tissue.
One of the most common types of lymposarcoma is lymphoma, a form of cancer that affects the lymphocytes, cells that make up a large part of the body’s immune system.
These masses usually form in the lymph nodes and create a noticeable tumor. Lymphoma is closely related to lymphoid leukemia, which typically affects the blood and bone marrow.
There are over 70 different types of lymphoma classified into 4 major categories. Lymphoma is the most commonly diagnosed “blood cancer” in the civilized world and represents 5 percent of all cancers in the United States and over 55 percent of all blood cancers.
Some forms of lymphoma are very aggressive, although even the more serious forms typically respond well to treatment. Patients with weakened immune systems run a higher risk of developing lymphoma.
Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms can vary from patient to patient, but the most common signs of lymphoma are:
- Persistent unexplained fever
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
Diagnosis & Treatment
Lymphoma can be diagnosed by a number of means, including a general physical, a CT/CAT scan, x-ray, or MRI. These diagnostic tests provide detailed images of the mass, which can help the physician determine the size, location, and stage of the tumor.
A biopsy, when a small sample of tissue is cut away from the mass and examined under a microscope, provides the most definitive diagnosis of lymphoma.
Treatment depends on the type of lymphoma and how well it may respond to a course of therapy. In many cases, a physician will simply monitor the patient to look for signs of the disease. Once the patient becomes symptomatic, a round of treatment will be prescribed—most likely chemotherapy or radiation.
If the treatment does not have an effect on the disease itself, it may alleviate some of the painful symptoms that often develop with lymphoma. Patients with lymphoma that reacts poorly to treatment may need more aggressive rounds of chemotherapy.
Generally, a patient’s prognosis depends on the type of cancer, as well as the size, location, and stage of the mass. Patients with lymphoma—even the more aggressive forms that respond well to treatment—may live for five years or more after the time of diagnosis. Patients with aggressive forms that have not responded well to treatment can expect a poorer prognosis.