Lymphoma is cancer affecting the immune system or the lymphatic system. There is lymphoma when lymphocytes (the type of white blood cells that helps fight infection) divide and multiply abnormally.
The lymphatic system is a network of organs and tissues (nodes) throughout the body. It is the system that moves the lymph, the fluid that contains the lymphocytes. There are two main types of lymphocytes:
- B cells – produce the antibodies against toxins, bacteria and viruses that enter the body.
- T cells – destroy the body cells that have been attacked by germs, viruses or have become cancerous.
Lymph circulation in the body is similar to blood circulation. The lymph cell also removes damaged or aged cells for a healthy and clean body.
Since the lymph travels to various parts of the body, lymphoma can develop in any of those parts. The tumor tends to grow in the bone marrow, thymus, spleen, lymph nodes and other organs with a lot of lymphatic tissues but it can also be extranodal. Extranodal lymphoma develops in organs outside of the lymphatic system like the liver or the lungs.
Lymphoma can develop at any age.
Main Types of Lymphoma
Lymphoma is classified into two main types based on the lymphocytes where they started from – the Hodgkin lymphoma and the Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. There are many sub types under each main type which are both named after the pathologist Dr. Thomas Hodgkin.
One of the identifying characteristics of Hodgkin lymphoma is the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells when cells are viewed under a microscope. Reed–Sternberg (R_S) cells are giant cells (as much as five times larger than normal cells) that appear in various shapes. Some Reed–Sternberg cells, named after Carl Sternberg and Dorothy Reed, the scientists who identified them, have more than one nucleus. They are derived from B cells but they don’t exhibit the B cell observable characteristics or traits anymore.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma does not involve Reed-Sternberg cells. It starts from both the B and T cells. It also affects the lymph nodes and spreads to other organs of the body.
Signs and symptoms
Like other cancers, the chance for survival from lymphoma is better if it is diagnosed and treated at its early stage. Hodgkin lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma have almost similar signs and symptoms that include:
- Painless swelling in the neck, groin, underarm or stomach.
- Tiredness or fatigue.
- Fever and cough without a known reason.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Recurring and soaking night sweats.
- Itchy skin.
In addition to the above common symptoms, Non-Hodgkin lymphoma has other symptoms such as: skin rashes and unexplained pain in the bones, chest or abdomen.
See your doctor for further diagnosis because the symptoms are also warning signs of other health problems.
Diagnosis of Lymphoma
Doctors may use any of the following diagnostic procedures for initial and further diagnosis to confirm if you have lymphoma.
- Blood tests
- Imaging Examinations
Imaging procedures may include X-ray, Computerized tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Radioisotonic scanning, Ultrasound and positron emission tomography (PET) scan. These imaging procedures can give detailed photos of the internal parts of the body.
The diagnosis is based on the laboratory analysis of the patient’s tissue sample. Biopsy maybe performed in the lymph nodes, bone marrow or liver.
- Lumbar puncture
This test can check if there is lymphoma in your central nervous system.
Lymphoma also progresses in stages. The 4 main stages, which are the same for Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, are expressed in numbers 1 to 4 or Roman numerals I to IV. Sub stages are specified by letters after the numbers.
Some doctors describe the status of the lymphoma as “high grade” or “low grade” based on how the cells appear under the microscope.
In a high-grade lymphoma, the cells look as if they are dividing fast. This is interpreted that the lymphoma can be a relatively fast-growing one. In a low-grade lymphoma the cells appears to be dividing at a slower pace. This is interpreted that the lymphoma is developing slowly.
A medical team plans the treatments that a patient needs based of some or all of the following factors:
- Type and stage of lymphoma
- Age, overall health and future plans of the patient. Is the patient suffering from other illnesses?
- Part or body organ affected by lymphoma.
- Genetics tests results. The test tells how a patient is likely to respond to certain treatment.
Both types of lymphoma may be treated with surgery (usually for extranodal lymphoma), chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy and/or stem cell transplantation.
Why people would like to have Lymphoma treatment in Turkey?
People would like to have their lymphoma treatment in Turkey for two main reasons. First, they get health services that are at least as good as those provided in the United States and in European countries. Second, those services cost much less.
The significant improvement in the quality of Turkeys medical services did not happen by chance. It is a well-planned goal supported by government legislation since over a decade ago.
Turkey has good oncologists / and hospitals
Patients seeking treatment for their lymphoma in Turkey are getting customized treatment plans. The treatment is planned and managed by a multidisciplinary team of professionals based on each patient’s unique circumstances. A lymphoma medical team would typically include a medical oncologist, pathologist, hematologist, radiologist and a support group of other healthcare professionals
It’s easy to carry out a good treatment plan for lymphoma in Turkey. The hospitals, diagnostic equipment, medical specialists and facilities for treatment procedures are available in many hospitals. Hospitals are monitored by the Ministry of Health for compliance with set standards. In addition, many hospitals have multiple accreditations from the Joint Commissions International (JCI), the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JACHO) and the International Organization for Standardization ISO) as well as affiliations with well-known medical facilities.
It is more affordable in Turkey compared to most countries, especially Europe and the US.
Government legislation and support for investment in high-quality health infrastructure and training of medical professionals helped make Turkey one of the popular treatment destinations for cancer patients who need immediate treatment.
Government support also allowed healthcare facilities to offer their services at much lower cost compared to the cost of the same services in Europe and the USA. As more patients came, the costs were reduced further as facilities utilization increased. For example, a hospital can get the return of its investment in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine faster because it is used almost 24/7. And MRI screening cost is reduced further by lower labor cost – the technician performs more screenings for his or her fixed monthly salary.
Another advantage from seeking medical treatment in Turkey is that there’s almost no waiting time. Everyday counts for a cancer patients waiting for treatment.