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Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer that develops in the lymphatic system or the lymphoid tissues. Affected organs include the spleen and the lymph nodes. In any type of lymphoma, there is an overactive function of the lymphocytes or white blood cells. White blood cells have two main kinds, the B lymphocytes and the T lymphocytes.
A rare type of NHL, Mantle cell lymphoma, affects an estimated 5% of individuals diagnosed with NHL. In this condition, the white blood cells which are hyperfunctioning are the B lymphocytes. These cells often divide abnormally and form into tumors in the lymphoid organ where they develop. The disease has different stages, and doctors often base the most appropriate treatment depending on the stage of the disease. While the disease appears to be a low grade lymphoma when observed under a microscope, it usually behaves aggressively which is typically seen in a high grade lymphoma. This condition, however, is frequently diagnosed when it is already in its critical stages, and has affected various parts of the body like the bone marrow, spleen, and lymph nodes. Its usually affects men who are 50 years old and above.
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The symptoms of the disease are similar with those observed in patients with other kinds of NHL. These include swelling in the groin, armpit, and neck. A swollen nymph node that persists for more than six weeks could be a symptom of the disease. Other general symptoms of the disease include heavy sweating at night time, unexplained rise in temperature, and unexplained weight loss. When the disease reaches the bowel and the stomach, it can also cause diarrhea. Patients are also prone to develop infections as the lymphocytes' capability to protect the body are lessened.
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Treatment of the disease is similar to the management used in other types of NHL, however, it is quite tough to manage the condition as it is frequently found during its later stages. Some treatment options include biological therapy, steroid therapy and chemotherapy.
Biological therapy makes use of drugs from various natural substances. These types of drugs are said to interfere with the chemicals found inside the cells, promote the build up of proteins and kills the cancer cells.
Steroids, which are natural substances in the body, may be artificially made and utilized as cancer medication. In NHL, steroids are usually given with other chemotherapy drugs.
Chemotherapy is considered the best option in the treatment of mantle cell lymphoma. However, people who are not healthy enough to undergo aggressive chemotherapy may be given other types of drugs. In case the disease comes back, some doctors recommend high dose chemotherapy. This option, however, increases the risks of treatment complications like infection.