August is Combat Lymphoma Month and many people know little or nothing about it. Therefore, the Mário Penna Institute supports the campaign and contributes to clarifying the disease in its media. Lymphomas are cancers that originate in the lymphatic system, a network of vessels and ganglia in our body responsible for storing the body’s defense cells.
Pedro Las Casas, a hematologist at the Instituto Mário Penna, explains that the disease arises when lymphocytes mutate and start to multiply in an uncontrolled manner, mainly inside the ganglia, causing them to increase in size. He points out that it is even possible that this proliferation occurs in other organs unrelated to the lymphatic system, such as the skin, lungs and nervous system.
“Lymphomas are divided into two types: Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s. Within these two groups it is possible to further divide them into several subtypes, each with completely different clinical characteristics and treatments. But only through the biopsy of the lesions is it possible to differentiate them”; account Dr. Pedro.
In general, the main symptoms of lymphomas are palpable and hardened nodes in the neck and armpits, which are usually painless and progressively growing. There are, however, other diseases that can lead to enlarged nodes, such as infections. Therefore, it is essential to seek a doctor for differential diagnosis if the nodes are progressively enlarged, are persistent or if they are accompanied by other symptoms such as persistent tiredness, daily fever, heavy sweating at night and weight loss.
The specialist also warns that for the diagnosis specific tests are needed, such as a biopsy of the ganglion or an organ suspected of being affected, blood tests and PET, a type of tomography that helps to identify the location of the lesions.
Dr. Pedro explains that the treatment of lymphomas varies according to the patient, the type of lymphoma and the degree of the disease. She points out that treatments are carried out through chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiotherapy. “Unfortunately there is no form of prevention. When discovered at an early stage, the chances of cure or control are high. Therefore, it is important to always seek medical attention when symptoms are noticed”.