Lymphoma is a type of cancer involving the white blood cells of the immune system called lymphocytes. This cancer originates in the lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system is your drainage system and is a major component of the immune system, helping filter out bacteria/infection and maintaining fluid balance. The lymphatic system consists of a network of glands and lymph vessels which forms the structure of the body’s immune system. This system makes and circulates lymph throughout our bodies and it is the lymph that contains the lymphocytes.
The three major types of lymphocytes are; T cells, B cells and natural killer (NK) cells. The relationship between B Cells, T Cells and other cells in the immune system is a complex system.
Lymphoma occurs when some of the cells in the lymphatic system grow and divide abnormally and rapidly. The cancer invades lymphoid tissues and may spread quickly to other organs, or bone marrow.
Types of lymphoma
There are two main types of lymphoma;
- Hodgkin Disease (HL)
- Non Hodgkin Disease (NHL)
Hodgkin's Lymphoma is a malignant growth of cells, called Reed-Sternberg cells, in the lymphatic system. In HL it is the cells in the lymph nodes that have become cancerous. HL can also spread to other areas and organs outside the lymphatic system.
HL was one of the first cancers to be cured by radiation and is reported to be one of the most curable forms of cancer, giving one a high survival rate.
It is a particular type of cell in the lymphatic tissue – Reed-Sternberg cell – that distinguishes HL from NHL, as they are not found in other cancerous lymphomas.
Non Hodgkin's lymphoma
Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma is a cancer that starts in the lymphatic system, causing T cells or B cells to reproduce abnormally. The cells may spread to other organs and tissues of the body and may cause tumors to develop in the lymph nodes (glands).
NHL is reported to be the fifth most common malignancy in the United States, as approximately 54,000 Americans learn they have Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma each year. Most lymphomas are NHL.
What are the symptoms?
- Unexplained weight loss
- Night sweating
- Ongoing general fatigue
- Persistent itchy skin
- Swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, abdomen or groin
- Loss of appetite
What causes lymphoma?
The cause is still unknown. Reports suggest lymphomas are the most common blood cancers in Australia, with over 1,500 people dying each year from this condition. However, several genetic, environmental and lifestyle risk factors have been suggested, such as:
- Infection; HIV, Epstein-Barr or H. Pylori
- Hepatitis B or C
- Family history of lymphoma - predisposition
- Exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation
- Gender – more common in males than females
- Compromised immune systems
- People with undiagnosed celiac disease (gluten intolerance) are three times more likely to develop lymphoma
- Exposure to agricultural chemicals such as pesticides and insecticides increases the risk of lymphoma
Treatment of lymphoma
Most patients receive care from their oncologists. Depending on the stage of the condition, treatment may involve chemotherapy, biopsy, radiation and medication.
Complementary medicine may be helpful along with conventional treatment. Most people do benefit from acupuncture, meditation, massage, herbs/vitamins/mineral supplementation to help keep stress levels down and better overall health.
Warning: You must check with your own doctor before taking any complementary medicine.
Some people may have dietary restrictions and there may also be difficulty in eating well if there is intolerance due to treatment. You should visit with a nutritionist who specialises in oncology nutrition and aim to include a varied diet of fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains - opt for organic if possible and try to avoid fried fatty foods. Aim for protein and plant food with your meals to help support immune function, which will aid in maintaining overall wellbeing and keeping up your strength.
Cancer patients need to use strategies to strengthen their immune system so it is better able to fight the spread of cancerous tissues. Many patients with cancer, especially in the advanced stages, are unable to ingest large meals and suffer with nausea and poor appetite. Cancer patients will often have difficulty in obtaining adequate nutrition from cooked meals and/or large amounts of raw fruits and vegetables.
Raw juicing is of importance as it can provide concentrated amounts of antioxidants and phytonutrients to strengthen the immune system. Here is a recipe taken from the book “Raw Juices Can Save Your Life”.
Juice for Cancer Patients
- 2 spinach or 2 dandelion or 2 kale leaves
- 1 orange
- 1/2 papaya
- 1 carrot
- 1 clove garlic or 1 spring onion - optional
- 1/4 beetroot
- 2 Shiitake mushrooms (remove stems and wipe caps clean)
- Wash, chop and pass through juicer.
Recommended supplements for lymphoma
Take 1-2 capsules daily with food. Selenium is a mineral vital for the immune system and it is a powerful antioxidant. Selenium can protect cells against the effects of free radicals.
- Vitamin D
Take 1 capsule daily with food. Vitamin D insufficiency is extremely common and this weakens the immune system. Vitamin D helps cells to replicate in a normal, controlled manner.
- N Acetyl L Cysteine (NAC)
Take 2 capsules daily. N-acetyl cysteine is the building block of glutathione, which is your body's most powerful detoxifier.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.