What Is Lymphoma, And What Do You Do Next?

What is lymphoma, and what do you
do next?

Sudarsan Vishnu Kollimuttathuillam, M.D.
You may have heard of lymphoma or read about it in the news when actor Jeff Bridges shared his diagnosis in 2020. But did you know that lymphoma is one of the ten most common cancers in the U.S., accounting for around 4 percent of new cases?
What is lymphoma, and do people with this serious but treatable disease have reason for hope as they start treatment?
What is lymphoma?
Lymphoma is a term that includes dozens of cancers that begin in the immune system. What they have in common is that they cause infection-fighting white blood cells, called lymphocytes, to change abnormally, spread through the lymphatic system and eventually grow into other parts of the body. There are two main types of lymphoma: Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is more common. A related but different form of blood cancer is leukemia, which originates in blood-forming cells inside bone marrow.

Symptoms of lymphoma
Swollen lymph nodes are the most common symptom of lymphoma. Swelling may be painless, and the affected lymph nodes may be in the neck, chest, armpit, or groin. Other symptoms include significant unexplained weight loss, unexplained fever, night sweats, chronic fatigue, persistent coughing or shortness of breath, and an abdomen that feels painful, swollen, or full.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s best to contact your doctor.
Also read: Hope In Every Mile Traveled: Orange County Cyclist Fortifies Body, Mind, And Spirit Close To Home During Lymphoma Treatment
Lymphoma risk factors
In both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the risk is higher in people at least 55-60 years of age, and men are slightly more likely to develop the disease than women. Certain viruses such as the Epstein-Barr virus are associated to varying degrees with lymphomas, as are HIV/AIDS and some medications used to treat autoimmune disorders.
Genetics also plays a role. Having a close relative like a parent or sibling with lymphoma increases your risk.
Promising lymphoma treatments
The good news for people with lymphoma is that it’s treatable. Cancer research conducted by scientific leaders like those at City of Hope is driving new, FDA-approved therapies for the disease, including CAR T cell therapy. This groundbreaking approach trains the patient’s immune cells to kill cancerous cells. City of Hope patients also may have early access to innovative gene, vaccine, and CAR T cell therapies as part of our clinical trials program.
If you have recently been diagnosed with lymphoma, leukemia, or any form of cancer, it’s best to seek care from an expert who focuses on your kind of cancer, who has access to the newest and best treatments and clinical trial options, and who can provide access to the research and resources you and your family need.
Sudarsan Vishnu Kollimuttathuillam, M.D. is a medical oncologist and hematologist who practices at City of Hope Huntington Beach and City of Hope Irvine Sand Canyon.
Visit www.cityofhope.org/OC to learn more. To make an appointment at any of City of Hope’s four Orange County locations, click here or call: