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Lymphomas [Lymphatic Cancers] Essay, Research Paper

Lymphomas are cancers of the lymph nodes and lymphatic tissues which make up the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system produces lymphocytes, cells that help the body fight diseases. One type of lymphoma is Hodgkin?s disease, which along with at least 10 other types of lymphoma cause around 50,000 lymphoma cases globally every year. This accounts for about 5% of the world?s cancer cases.

The exact cause of lymphoma is still unknown, but some speculate that lymphomas could be hereditary, or that they are caused by viruses. Human T-Cell lymphoma and Burkitt?s lymphoma seem to be strongly tied to the presence of viruses in the human body, Burkitt?s being shown to occur more frequently in patients with the mononucleosis-causing Epstien-Barr virus in their bodies.

Occurrences of lymphoma are shown to be twice as frequent in males than in females, and non-Hodgkin?s? lymphoma appears to increase in frequency with age. Lymphomas associated with Hodgkin?s disease is extremely rare in children under the age of two, occurring most frequently in white males in their mid-thirties and -fifties.

Symptoms of lymphoma include the swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck and groin, weight loss, severe itching all over the body, fatigue, and the Pel-Ebstein fever pattern, characterized by high fevers in the evenings. The swelling of the affected lymph nodes is caused by the nodes producing excess lymphocytes, and histocytes. In the case of Hodgkin?s disease, unique and unusually large cells called Reed-Sternberg cells are produced, which are easy to spot for their large, prominent nuclei. These cells are not produced under normal circumstances and thus they make Hodgkin?s disease easy to identify and diagnose.

Before treatment of lymphomas can begin, the cancer must be staged, have its severity assessed. The appropriate treatment for a patient?s lymphoma is determined by the severity of the tumor. Stage one lymphomas usually affect only one or two lymph nodes in one area. If the lymphoma is identified and treated at this stage with local radiotherapy, the patient has a 90% chance of being symptom-free after five years. Stage two lymphomas affect more glands than in stage one, over a larger area, requiring more generalized irradiation . Treatment after this stage will usually give the patient a 60% of being symptom-free after five years. Stages three and four of lymphoma are characterized by an enlarged spleen, and the spread of the cancer to tissues outside the lymph system, respectively. Both stages are treated with chemo- and radiotherapy, and a patient wit stage three has a 40% chance of being symptom-free after 5 years, while a stage four patient has only a 20-40% chance.

Treatment using anti-cancer drugs usually involves a combination of two or more drugs that enhance each other?s qualities. One well-known combination of this type is called the MOPP protocol, consisting of doses of mechlorethamine, oncovin, procarbazine, and prednizone. Another combination is the ABVD protocol, consisting of doses of adriamycin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine.

The subject of cancers of the lymph system relates to biology in that our class had just completed a study of mitosis and meiosis, the processes by which cells divide. Cancer is caused by one stage or another in this division malfunctioning, resulting in the uncontrolled division of cells. By researching this type of cancer, not only have I gained knowledge of cancers in general, but have learned about the lymph system and, of course, lymphoma. I have exercised my researching and note taking skills, and am now ready to tackle a new research project.

Bibliography

?Hodgkin?s Disease? Diseases, 1993 ed.

?Malignant Lymphomas? Diseases, 1993 ed.

?Hodgkin?s Disease.? Marshall Cavendish Encyclopedia of Family Health, 1993 ed.

?Lymphoma.? Marshall Cavendish Encyclopedia of Family Health, 1993 ed.

?Hodgkin?s Disease.? The New Good Housekeeping Health and Medical Guide, 1989 ed.

?Lymphoma.? The New Good Housekeeping Health and Medical Guide, 1989 ed.

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