Lymphoma is a form of cancer that affects a specific type of cell called the lymphocytes. These tiny but incredibly important cells are classed as cells of the immune system and so when they begin to mutate and become cancerous the immune response to infections, for example bacteria and viruses, is severely affected. As with all other forms of cancer, lymphoma can strike anyone at any time and because it doesn’t exhibit any obvious outward symptoms, many sufferers don’t realise they have developed the disease until it has already reached the later stages.
In terms of age there are two major age groups that are especially prone to lymphoma. These are 25-35 years of age and the over 60s. It is possible that the over 60s have naturally weaker immune systems because their body cells have had to defend from infection for so long. This means that when mutated cells do occur, and they do often occur within the body, the immune system is no longer able to eradicate them and they are able to multiply and develop into cancer. This is especially worrying when the cells that are mutated are in fact cells of the immune system i. e. the lymphocytes. Surprisingly, research into confirmed cases of lymphoma has shown that 25-35 year olds are also at higher risk of developing the disease. Nobody is sure why this is so at the current time and further research into the mechanisms of lymphoma development is needed to make the link.
In terms of gender, research has shown that men are around three times more likely than women to be diagnosed with lymphoma. Again why this should be so is still not known with any certainty however there are a number of thoughts which could explain the bias. For example, some scientists think that the female hormones may provide protection from the disease because as women age and the level of hormones within the body decreases, the probability of them developing lymphoma starts to equal that of their male counterparts. Alternatively it could be that male hormones somehow make men more susceptible and as men age and their hormone levels decrease they become less prone to the disease. Either way, more research is needed into the risk factors of lymphoma before a definite link can be made.
Lastly, in terms of geographical location it would seem that the Western world i. e. the UK, America, Australia, Germany etc, have much higher incidences of lymphoma than places such as Africa and Asia. This may be related to lifestyle in that a rich lifestyle with fatty food, alcohol, and other luxurious items in addition to the higher concentrations of pollution and other carcinogenic substances may predispose Westerners to lymphoma.
Why some people are affected by lymphoma while others aren’t still remains a mystery however there are many research institutes around the world that are working hard to find the answers. If you fall into either of the age ranges mentioned above and especially if you are male then you should stay vigilant and check you lymph gland regularly for any signs of swelling.
For more information and resources on hodgkin's and non-hodgkin's lymphoma, other types of lymphoma, symptoms, treatment for lymphoma , medication, research, causes of lymphoma , solutions and facts, visit Jeremy Parker's complete reference guide on lymphoma. Also get your free copy of the “Lymphoma Information Guide" report at http://www.LymphomaResources.com