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Nine questions about non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Nine questions about non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Cancer in the lymphatic system is a disease that attacks the lymph nodes and is increasingly common in developed countries. According to data from the National Cancer Institute (INCA), each year approximately 10,000 new cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are registered in Brazil. The most recent and known case of diagnosis of the disease is the actor Reynaldo Gianecchini, who will be treated with chemotherapy.

"This type of lymphoma has dozens of subtypes, but many people do not even know it exists, so it's always good leave some information to anyone who wants to know more about this disease still little discussed, "says hematologist Jane de Almeida Dobbin, head of the Department of Hematology at the National Cancer Institute. Clarify nine questions about non-Hodgkin's lymphoma:

What is the difference between Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?

"The only difference between these two types of lymphomas is that of Hodgkin's but the small difference drastically changes the type of treatment to be used in the patient, "says hematologist Jane de Almeida Dobbin, head of the Hematology Service at the National Cancer Institute. Non-Hodgkin's lymphomas can appear anywhere on the body that has lymph nodes, such as the neck, armpit, groin and abdomen. "In most cases, the patient realizes that something is wrong when one of these areas becomes swollen for no reason," explains Jane Dobbin. "In more aggressive cases, the lymph node can grow and cause compression or obstruction of the arteries and In the case of the neck, this ends up hampering the transport of nutrients to the brain. "

Are there risk factors?

According to the specialist, 90% of cases of lymphomas are diagnosed without knowing the cause. "Cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in developed countries are growing at about 3 percent annually, but it is not known why," says the hematologist.

Some cases of this disease are related to contact with pesticides, herbicides, and products benzene derivatives, a toxic substance that is related to several other types of cancer. "When the lymphoma is more aggressive the chances of cure are greater, and in cases where the odds are close to zero, the survival of patients may being of several decades of life and there are virtually no symptoms at diagnosis. "

Who has cases in the family need to worry?

According to hematologist Jane Dobbin, this type of lymphoma is not hereditary. It is difficult, but not impossible, to find two people in the same family who have suffered from the disease.

Who suffers the most: men or women?

In cases of lymphoma, sex does not affect both the chances of the disease and chances of cure. "As 90% are unknown causes, it is impossible to make any relationship with the male or female gender," the hematologist explains.

Does food influence the formation of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas?

According to the specialist, there is no evidence of specific foods that directly cause or prevent the formation of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. However, as with other forms of cancer, diets rich in vegetables and fruits may have a protective effect against the development of lymphomas.

Non-Hodkin Lymphoma - Getty Images

How is it done and how long does the treatment last?

Because there is a wide variety of non-Hodgkin lymphoma types, treatment may vary. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy may be done in isolated ways or, in some cases, in a combined manner. In the case of indolent lymphomas, it is often only necessary to have a medical follow-up, which lasts until the end of the patient's life.There is no right time for treatment, as this depends on the condition of the patient and the type of lymphoma.

What are the chances of cure?

While Hodgkin's lymphomas have a cure rate of approximately 75 %, the large number of types of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas makes the chances of cure vary greatly. "In addition, the chances of cure vary according to some other factors, such as age, anemia and number of affected lymph nodes, which are specific to each patient," the hematologist explains.

The chances of cure can range from zero, when lymphoma is indolent, up to approximately 90%, when it is classified as aggressive.

"When lymphoma is aggressive the chances of cure are greater. being of several decades of life and there are virtually no symptoms at the time of diagnosis, "says Jane Dobbin.

Is there care that should be taken during treatment?

How treatment with chemotherapy and radiotherapy ends up decreasing the immunity of the body of patients, it is necessary to avoid some types of food that can cause food poisoning. "Heavy foods should be avoided, as they are more likely to contain bacteria, and activities that increase the chances of cuts or injuries are also to be avoided," says Jane Dobbin.

Heavy foods can also increase a side effect of chemotherapy: nausea "Even though today we have an arsenal of chemical therapies that ease symptoms like nausea and dizziness, heavy foods, because they are slow to be digested, can make patients uncomfortable," says hematologist Jane de Almeida Dobbin, head of the National Institute of Hematology of Cancer.

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