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What is Mantle Cell Lymphoma?

Susan Grindstaff
Susan Grindstaff

Mantle cell lymphoma is a type of lymphoma that starts in what is called the mantle of the lymph nodes. Unlike most types of lymphoma, it is not believed to be related to Hodgkin’s disease. Lymphoma is a type of cancer that attacks the lymph nodes. Mantle cell lymphoma is a very rare cancer, and for unknown reasons, it is more commonplace in Europe than in other parts of the world.

Compared to women, men have triple the risk of developing mantle cell lymphoma. The disease is not restricted to a specific age group, but it is much more common in people over 50 years of age. This type of lymphoma is often resistant to common types of cancer treatment and in most cases is considered incurable.


Like many other types of the disease, mantle cell lymphoma first affects lymph nodes. The outer layers of nodules that make up lymph nodes are called the mantle and are the areas where mantle cell lymphoma begins. It is a type of cancer that often spreads very quickly, affecting other body organs including the spleen and liver. Very often, in later stages, mantle cell lymphoma is often found in bone marrow and may even spread to blood cells.

Mantle cell lymphoma is considered a silent type of cancer, because often by the time symptoms present themselves the cancer is already very advanced. The primary symptom is swelling of lymph nodes in the groin, armpits, or neck. In addition, people who suffer from the disease may have weight loss and heavy sweating at night. In many instances, they may also lose their appetite and have frequent bouts of nausea.

Diagnosing this disease typically involves performing a biopsy. Doctors will remove a piece of tissue taken from a swollen lymph node to test it for cancerous cells. If cancerous cells are found, the patient typically will undergo more tests to determine how far the cancer has spread. These test could include biopsies of other organs, blood tests, and scanning procedures to locate timorous growths.

Treatment for mantle cell lymphoma will usually vary, depending on how advance the disease is when it is discovered. Treatment frequently includes drugs such as interferon, which is believed to boost the immune system and help the body fight off the disease. In some cases, chemotherapy may also be a treatment option, and is usually accompanied by steroid injections. In cases where the disease is very advanced at discovery, sometimes stem cell therapy in addition to bone marrow transplants may be used as treatment.

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