What is Lymphoblastic Lymphoma?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 22 April 2020
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Lymphoblastic lymphoma is a rare cancer that usually forms in one or more of the body's lymph nodes. The condition produces fast-growing tumors, and usually afflicts teenagers and young adults. It is often difficult for doctors to determine the underlying cause of lymphoblastic lymphoma, but both genetic and environmental factors have been associated with the cancer. Treatment usually consists of a combination of chemotherapy, radiation treatments, medications, and surgery. Patients who receive early diagnoses and prompt treatment have good chances of experiencing close to full recoveries.

Lymphoblasts are a class of specialized white blood cells that are still in their developmental phases. Most cases of lymphoblastic lymphoma afflict the lymphoblasts that would normally develop into T cells. Instead, the cancer causes the young cells to start replicating wildly, quickly growing into a tumor in a lymph node or the thyroid gland. Lymphoblastic lymphoma is notoriously prolific, and it is common for several lymph nodes to be affected within a matter of months.

A person who suffers from lymphoblastic lymphoma is likely to notice swelling in his or her neck, groin, or armpit region. Most tumors are themselves painless, though a large mass in the neck may result in throat inflammation or breathing difficulties. Some people experience frequent feelings of fatigue, nausea, and weight loss. Without immediate treatment, the cancer can potentially spread to vital organs, including the heart or brain, and lead to life-threatening complications.

Any abnormal lymph node swelling should be reported to a doctor as soon as possible so the patient can be screened for cancer. An oncologist can perform a physical examination and administer diagnostic imaging tests to determine the size and exact location of a tumor. If an abnormal mass is discovered, the doctor can extract blood and tissue samples for careful laboratory analysis. Lab pathologists investigate tissue and blood samples to determine if lymphoblastic lymphoma or another form of cancer is responsible for the tumor.

Treatment for lymphoblastic lymphoma depends on the size and stage of tumors. When a single mass exists, a surgeon may be able to remove it before the cancer has a chance to spread to other parts of the body. Large or multiple tumors are typically treated with steroid medications along with chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Compared with many other types of lymphoma, the lymphoblastic variety is generally easier to manage. In many cases, doctors are able to remove almost all traces of cancer from the body, and patients are likely to recover from their symptoms.


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