Lymphoblastic Lymphoma is an umcommon form of aggressive Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL).
Its so called because...:
Lymphoblastic lymphoma develops out of immature lymphocytes before they become the T and B-cells that circulate in our blood. These cells are called lymphoblasts. That is why the lymphoma is called a lymphoblastic lymphoma.
Lymphoblastic lymphoma is a lymphoma of immature lymphoblasts. It arises more commonly from T-lymphoblasts than B-lymphoblasts. It is a very aggressive lymphoma, also called high grade lymphoma. That means that the lymphoma grows quickly, and can spread fast to different parts of the body. In many ways it is similar to a leukemia.
Get familiar with the names given to the different types of NHL in the article on NHL types.
Who gets this lymphoma?:
Lymphoblastic lymphoma mostly affects young people in their late teens or early twenties. It is more common in men than in women.
How does the disease affect the body?:
This lymphoma is very fast growing. Most patients develop severe symptoms within a short span of time. Lymph nodes in the mediastinum (the central part of the chest between the lungs) are the most commonly affected. This results in a mass in the chest that leads to breathing problems and cough. Water may also accumulate within the lungs. The bone marrow is commonly involved. The brain and spinal cord may also be affected in a number of cases.
Diagnosis and Tests for Lymphoblastic Lymphoma:
The diagnosis of lymphoma is generally done with a lymph node biopsy if enlarged nodes can be easily accessed, or a needle aspiration (FNAC) under guidance of CT-scans or ultrasound scans. The disease is confirmed as a lymphoma, and the type of lymphoma is determined by looking at its cells under the microscope and special tests. Newly diagnosed patients have to undergo a series of tests to determine how far the disease affects the body. See the section on tests for the newly diagnosed.
Prognosis of Lymphoblastic Lymphoma:
The prognosis of lymphoblastic lymphoma is similar in many respects to leukemias. It depends on a number of factors including the stage of disease. The factors are described in the section on prognostic factors of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL).
Treatment of Lymphoblastic Lymphoma:
Treatment is on the lines of leukemias rather than other lymphomas. Chemotherapy is given in three phases - induction,consolidation, and maintenance. Induction chemotherapy involves administration of a number of drugs through infusion and tablets over a few weeks in hospital. Following this a few drugs are administered in infusion periodically over a few months to remove any remaining cancer cells. This is called consolidation. Maintenance involves the use of drugs usually in oral form over a few years. A number of patients with lymphoblastic lymphoma achieve cure with intensive chemotherapy.