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Lymphoblastic lymphoma (LBL) is a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).
LBL usually develops from T-cells but occasionally develops from B-cells.
LBL is very similar to acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). In LBL, the abnormal lymphocytes are generally in the lymph nodes or thymus gland, but in ALL they are mainly in the blood and bone marrow. The lymphatic system is a network of fine vessels, glands and channels which occur throughout the body. It also conveys nutrients and cells, and is responsible for draining fluid and waste products away from tissues, and into the blood stream to be processed. The lymphatic system is an important part of the immune system and is made up of lymph nodes and vessels and of collections of lymphocytes in other tissues.
In most cases of lymphoma, there is no obvious cause. There are some things which are known to be associated with a higher than average chance of developing lymphoma. These include:
It is important to understand that:
The most common symptom of lymphoblastic lymphoma is a painless swelling in a lymph node, usually in the neck, armpit or groin. Many patients with LBL have enlarged lymph nodes in the central area of the chest (the mediastinum). This may cause breathing difficulty and/or symptoms such as:
Less common symptoms
Other symptoms may include:
Lymphoblastic lymphoma is usually diagnosed by taking a biopsy of an enlarged lymph node or another abnormal area. It can be hard to make the diagnosis because the cells can look like other types of lymphoma under the microscope.
Other tests which may be done include:
Staging is the use of test results to show how widely the lymphoma has spread. There are four stages in the standard system used:
Stages 1-2 are known as early-stage disease and stages 3-4 are known as advanced-stage disease.
This stage description may be modified by adding the letters A, B, E or S:
A modified version of this system has been developed for children and adolescents; this is very new (2016) and may not be used in all centres. If this applies to you, or your child, it will be explained by the specialist.
Chemotherapy is the main treatment for lymphoblastic lymphoma. It is usually treated more intensively than other types of lymphoma. You may be referred to a specialist centre for treatment. The treatment is similar to the treatment for ALL.
Doctors may also suggest treating lymphoblastic lymphoma with one or more of the following treatments:
Chemotherapy is the use of cell-killing drugs. These kill the cancer cells and/or stop them from dividing. Chemotherapy is normally given as a combination of drugs, which will usually include steroids. Steroids used to treat lymphoma are a laboratory-made version of chemicals naturally made by the body. They are very different from the type of steroids sometimes misused by body-builders or sportsmen.
Chemotherapy is usually given in blocks or ‘cycles’ of treatment. One cycle of treatment will consist of a series of doses of chemotherapy followed by a break for the healthy cells to recover.
The details of your treatment will vary depending on the stage of your lymphoma and your general fitness. You will be given a chance to discuss treatment options and detailed information on your treatment plan before it starts. The side effects of treatment vary between different types of treatment and different patients. You will be given detailed information about any likely side effects before you start treatment.
We understand going through a blood cancer through journey can be difficult. It may help to talk to a close friend or relative about how you are feeling. Here are some questions that may be useful to ask your doctor.