Types of Lymphomas and Effects on the Mouth

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Lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system, an important part of the body's immune system and blood network. There are multiple types of lymphoma, including Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Both types affect the white blood cells, which help the body fight off disease. A doctor examines the cells to determine the type of lymphoma present.

Diagnosis

The exact cause of lymphoma is unknown, but it occurs when the body develops a white blood cell mutation. The cells multiply at a rapid rate and make the lymph nodes swell. While lymphoma causes enlarged or swollen lymph nodes, it is important to note that not all cases of enlarged lymph nodes correspond to a lymphoma diagnosis.

The physical exam for lymphoma is very thorough and usually requires a surgical biopsy. The doctor will obtain tissue from the tumor and lymph nodes and test them in a laboratory. Additionally, the doctor will likely take specialized radiographs designed to identify cancers called positron emission tomography–computed tomography (PET-CT) scans.

Once the doctor identifies the tumor size and location, they will determine if other parts of the body are involved, such as the spleen, liver or bone marrow. This testing may require a biopsy of the bone marrow.

Risk Factors and Treatment

According to the American Cancer Society, Hodgkin lymphoma most commonly affects young adults, and men are more likely to be diagnosed than women. The risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma increases as an individual ages , and more than half of diagnoses occur when the patient is over 65 years old, reports the American Cancer Society.

The survival rate depends on the type of lymphoma and the stage of the disease at diagnosis, but treatments have improved over the years. The five-year survival rate for Hodgkin lymphoma is 86 percent. If you are diagnosed with a form of lymphoma, your doctor and medical team will design an effective treatment plan based on your particular condition.

Lymphomas and the Mouth

Chemotherapy has become more targeted and effective as new technology allows doctors to more precisely locate the cell where the lymphoma originates. However, the chemotherapy, radiation therapy and drug therapy that comes after a lymphoma diagnosis may result in adverse effects on the oral cavity.

Your dentist, along with your medical team, will play a role in helping you get the care you need to manage these conditions. To find solutions for chemotherapy-induced dry mouth or difficulty swallowing, consult your dentist. They will provide options that allow you to maintain a healthy mouth while your body works on beating lymphoma. See both your physician and your dentist for regular checkups so you can be sure to tackle any medical or oral conditions as soon as they develop.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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