Home Health Lymphoma: Causes, treatment and risk factors

Lymphoma: Causes, treatment and risk factors


Lymphoma is the type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system. It targets a type of white blood cells called lymphocytes which help fight disease in the body, playing an important role in the immune system. The two main types of lymphoma are Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin, with non-Hodgkin being the most common.

Lymphoma Symptoms

Unfortunately, signs and symptoms of lymphoma are quite akin to illnesses such as viral diseases and the common cold. But they continue for longer than normal. Sometimes, you won’t see any lymphoma symptoms. But some patients may notice a swelling of the lymph nodes. 

Some people will have no symptoms. But some patients may notice a swelling of the lymph nodes. These nodes are located all around the body. Often in the neck, groin, abdomen, or armpits. The swellings are normally painless. But it can sometimes cause pain.

Other lymphoma symptoms are:

  • Ongoing fever without infection
  • Night Sweats
  • fever, and chills
  • Weight loss 
  • Loss of appetite
  • unusual itching
  • persistent fatigue
  •  pain in lymph nodes

Additional symptoms that are seen in Non-Hodgkin lymphoma are persistent coughing, shortness of breath, and pain or swelling of the abdomen.


There are no routine screenings for lymphoma. If a person shows persistent viral symptoms, they should quickly see a doctor. The doctor will examine the patient’s personal and family medical history. He or she will try to rule out other conditions.

Doctors in professional institutes like Medanta hospital will also carry out a physical examination which will include an inspection of the abdomen and chin, neck, groin, and armpits, where swellings may occur. The doctor will search for signs of infection near lymph nodes. This is because it can account for most cases of swelling.


Treatment for lymphoma depends on the type and stage of cancer which is available at the massive institutes like Medanta Gurgaon. 

  • Antibody therapy: Synthetic antibodies are injected into the bloodstream so that they would combat cancer’s antigens.
  • Chemotherapy: Aggressive drugs are used to kills cancer cells.
  • Radio immunotherapy: Here, the doctors deliver high-powered radioactive doses directly into the cancerous B-cells and T-cells with an aim to destroy them.
  • Radiation therapy: Here, the doctors focus on small areas of cancer.
  • Stem-cell transplantation: It follows high-dose chemotherapy or radiation therapy. It is done to restore the damaged bone marrow.
  • Steroids: These may be injected to treat lymphoma.
  • Surgery: This can be used to remove the other organs after the lymphoma has spread.

Risk factors

The two different types of lymphoma have different risk factors.

  • Age: Most lymphomas occur in people aged sixty years and older, but Hodgkin is more likely to affect children and young adults. People between the ages of twenty and thirty years and people over the age of fifty-five years have a higher risk
  • Sex: Some types of lymphoma are more likely in women, others are more likely in men. Non-Hodgkin is more common in females while Hodgkin is slightly more common in males.
  • Ethnicity: Hodgkin lymphoma is most common in Americans, Canadians, and northern European. It is least common in Asians.
  • Chemicals and radiation: Nuclear radiation and some chemicals that are used in agriculture have been known to cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Immunodeficiency: Someone who has a weak immune system is more at risk. Medications that are taken after an organ transplant can also cause a week immune system.
  • Autoimmune disease: This happens when your own immune system attacks the body’s own cells. The best examples of these conditions are rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease.
  • Infection: Certain viral and bacterial infections that transform such as the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) can cause lymphoma.
  • Breast implants: Although more research is required, these implants can cause anaplastic large cell lymphoma in the tissues of the breast.
  • Body weight and diet: Obesity has been involved in the development of lymphoma. But there is not enough research to back this claim up.
  • Family: In case a sibling has the condition, then the risk is slightly higher. And it is very high if the sibling is an identical twin.
  • Affluence: People of higher socioeconomic status are known to be at greater risk
  • HIV infection: It can impair the immune system and double the risk of lymphoma.

In most western countries, the lifetime risk of getting Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is around 2.1 percent. And the risks of developing  Hodgkin lymphoma is around 0.2 percent. It can occur at any age. But it is one of the most common causes of cancer in children and young adults aged fifteen to twenty-four years. It is often treatable.