Type B lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. There are two types of lymphatic cancers. One is Hodgkin's lymphoma, which is the cancerous growth of tumors on the lymph nodes. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is cancer of the white blood cells. B lymphoma is the proliferation of white blood cells without the following death of the cell to lower the white blood cell count when disease is not present.
Symptoms of B lymphoma are normally mild, so the development of the cancer may not be noticeable until later stages. The most common early symptom is pain in the lymph nodes. The lymph nodes span the height of the body in places like the neck, chest and groin area. These nodes swell and become sore when disease is present, so people may disregard early symptoms of B lymphoma. Additional symptoms are fatigue, weight loss and breathing problems.
Normally, when disease is present in the body, the white blood cells (including B cells) proliferate, multiply and build a defense against the invading microbe. When the disease is cleared from the body, the normal function of white blood cells is to trigger programmed cell death to lower the count back to normal. With B lymphoma, these cells do not die. Instead, they continue to circulate and proliferate, causing disease themselves.
Cancer is caused by mutations in the cells that cause them to multiply without dying. However, the direct cause of the mutation can vary widely. Risk factors for B lymphoma are mostly environmental, but poor immune system regulation from diseases such as AIDS increases the risks. Chemicals and age also play a role in the chance of developing B lymphoma.
When making B lymphoma diagnoses, doctors will conduct several tests to confirm their suspicions. Blood tests are drawn to send to a laboratory to count the amount of white blood cells circulating. Biopsies are conducted by taking samples of the tissue in the lymph nodes. Because white blood cells recirculate back to the lymph nodes, the tissue taken can be examined for abnormal tumor growths. A doctor may also take samples of bone marrow to determine if the cancer has spread to the bone.
Treatment is of B lymphoma is mostly conducted through radiation and chemotherapy. While chemotherapy is taken orally or through injection, radiation is given only on the source of the tumor growths. For B lymphoma, this may be on the lymph nodes. Occasionally, radiation is used in conjunction with chemotherapy. For more advanced stages, transplants may be necessary. Transplants are used to replace bone marrow, which is where blood cells develop. Biotherapy is also used in the form of a treatment called Rituximab. Rituximab is a monoclonal antibody treatment, which helps the immune system identify and destroy cancerous tumors.