Some cancers have clear environmental causes. Oral cancer is strongly tied to the use of chewing tobacco, and lung cancer is well-known to be much more likely in smokers than the general population. In fact, over eighty percent of the cancers that affect the head and neck are usually the result of tobacco use of one kind or another.
Unfortunately, the correlation between external factors and the development of lymphoma, or cancer of the lymph nodes, is not as strong as it is in other cancers. This makes avoiding lymphoma somewhat more difficult to do intentionally, but many of the steps you would take to avoid other cancers can be applied to prevent lymph node cancer.
There are a few steps you can take to avoid lymphoma and other cancers, including:
- If you use tobacco products, stop. If you don't use them, don't start. Tobacco, both the smoked form and so-called smokeless/chewing tobacco, has been connected to not only cancer, but also a raft of other negative health effects. This is the single best thing you can do to reduce cancer risk.
- Treat infections quickly. While there is no specific correlation between any communicable diseases and lymphoma, there are some who believe certain viruses predispose a person to lymphoma later in life. Additionally, maintaining a healthy immune system will make cancer easier to detect if it does appear.
- Practice safe sex. As with the previous suggestion, there is no evidence that sexually-transmitted diseases cause lymphatic cancer, but it never hurts to be prepared. Also, because many therapies for cancer result in a depressed immune system, it's crucial that you avoid any additional immunosuppressive infections, such as HIV and AIDS.
- Avoid radiation. This can be anything from unnecessary x-rays to a mad sunburn. Radiation damages cells' ability to repair themselves, and can lead to a number of different cancers.
- Avoid toxins, especially benzine. THe products that surround us every day are full of dyes, plastics, and other poisons. These carcinogens can manifest a variety of cancers, and may cause lymphoma.
In light of the difficulty in outright preventing lymph node cancer, it is important to recognize it quickly if it does occur. The following are some signs that you may have lymphoma:
- Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss
- Night sweats
- Enlargement of the lymph nodes
- Pain in the liver immediately following the consumption of alcohol
- Fever, although this is somewhat controversial as a diagnostic criterion
Lymphoma is generally responsive to treatment, even in later stages. Treatment can take the form of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of the three. The key thing is to consult an oncologist or other professional as soon as you can if you think you may have lymphoma or any other kind of cancer. They will be able to make a definitive diagnosis, offer advice and resources, and help you plan a course of treatment.
This article was originally published on LymphomaInfo.