Follicular lymphoma is a form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma characterized by the development of large follicles in the lymph nodes. Follicles are rounded structures which are clearly visible upon biopsy, making it relatively easy for doctors to diagnose this condition. The prognosis for patients with follicular lymphoma varies depending on when the condition was caught and the condition of the patient. Because it progresses very slowly, some patients have very favorable outcomes.
One of the most common symptoms of follicular lymphoma is a painless swelling in the lymph nodes, especially around the neck. Patients may also experience fatigue, unexplained weight loss, fever, and sweating. When the doctor feels enlarged lymph nodes during the exam, a biopsy will be requested so that the tissue in the lymph nodes can be examined by a pathologist.
Once a pathologist confirms that the patient has follicular lymphoma, the condition will be graded, depending on how far it has progressed. If it only affects one lymph node, it is in an early stage receiving a grade of one. Involvement of multiple nodes across the lymphatic system indicates that the lymphoma is more advanced and it will be given a higher grade.
Treatment varies, depending on the grade, the patient, and the doctor's experience. The patient is usually referred to an oncologist to discuss treatment options. In some cases, no treatment at all may be recommended with the doctors taking a wait and see approach. In other instances, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be used in an attempt to halt the progress of the lymphoma, sometimes in combination with other drugs.
The earlier follicular lymphoma is caught, the better, even if no treatment is recommended at the time of diagnosis. By being aware of the condition, patients can pursue follow up examinations and testing to monitor the progression and spread of the disease allowing their doctors to take action if it is needed. Doctors are split on the efficacy of early intervention, with some suggesting that the earlier treatment is offered, the better things will be for the patient, while others believe that waiting to see whether or not the lymphoma progresses is the best policy.
Follicular lymphoma is a very common form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. You may also hear it called Nodule Lymphoma. As with all medical conditions, it's a good idea to talk to a doctor about your specific case, as factors in your medical history can have an impact on the prognosis and best course of treatment to take.