Type of disease: Rare conditions
Follicular lymphoma is the most common type of slow-growing non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Lymphomas are the most common type of blood cancer, and involve a problem with lymphocytes, the cells that help your body to fight infection and disease. In lymphoma, the lymphocytes grow uncontrollably and travel to other parts of your body and may form tumors in other places, including the spleen, bone marrow, blood, and other organs. Some people affected with this condition will have no symptoms, but some of the more common symptoms are swelling of the lymph nodes in your neck, stomach, and armpit, as well as shortness of breath, becoming more tired, night sweats and weight loss. The average age of diagnosis for this condition is 60-65, and it is more common in women than in men.
The causes of follicular lymphoma are currently unknown. To diagnose, doctors will do a physical exam or examine part of the lymph node if it is swelling. They will use a microscope to examine the part of the node removed to determine if it is cancerous. Doctors may also do medical scans such as a CT scan or a PET scan to determine the diagnosis.
There are different treatment options for this condition depending on the severity and how quickly the cancer is growing. Physicians may choose not to treat the lymphoma immediately, or may choose to try radiation or chemotherapy. Follicular lymphoma is usually responsive to both radiation and chemotherapy, but it is difficult to cure. However, following treatment, many individuals will go into remission for years, meaning that the disease will not return for a long time. Antibodies, substances that target specific markers found on the tumor cells, can also be used to improve response to treatment.
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with follicular lymphoma, talk with your doctor about the most current treatment options. Support groups are also good resources of support and information.