Mantle Cell Lymphoma is an uncommon type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). Only 5-7% of all NHL belong to this group. It is a lymphoma of B-cells. Though it looks like a slow growing, low-grade tumor under the microscope, it grows fast and behaves like a high-grade lymphoma. (To understand more about the different types of NHL, see the article on Types of NHL). It is called a ‘mantle’ cell lymphoma because it first arises within a part of the lymph node called the ‘mantle’ zone.
Who gets Mantle Cell Lymphoma?:
Mantle Cell Lymphoma is more common in older individuals. The mean age at diagnosis is more than 60 years. It affects men much more commonly than women. There are no definite risk-factors for getting this lymphoma.
Which parts of the body are affected?:
Mantle cell lymphoma starts in the lymph nodes. The first thing that most people notice is enlarged nodes in the neck, groin or armpits. The disease generally grows fast and by the time it is seen by a doctor, the disease has spread to other organs in the body in most individuals. The bone marrow, spleen and throat is affected in many people. There may be lymphoma cells in the blood. The intestines can also be affected in some people. This can give rise to symptoms like abdominal pain or diarrhea.
Tests and Staging:
Tests for Mantle cell lymphoma are the same as those for other kinds of lymphoma. They include blood tests, scans and a bone marrow test. See the section on Tests for Lymphoma for more details. Once the tests reveal which parts of the body are affected, the disease stage can be determined. Most people have stage III or IV disease that has spread to different organs of the body. See here to understand Lymphoma Staging.
Treatment and Outcomes:
Mantle cell lymphoma is treated mainly with chemotherapy - in the form of injections or drips. Radiation therapy has only a limited role. The treatment outcome in this form of lymphoma (especially in advanced stages) is not very good. Cure is uncommon unless the disease is diagnosed early. The aim of treatment is to keep the disease in control for as long as possible. Some individuals may benefit from very intensive chemotherapy drug regimens or a bone marrow transplant. Some new drugs have shown promise in clinical trials. Read more in the article on Treatment of Mantle Cell Lymphoma.