Yesterday was a feel-good day! The weather was beautiful (highs in the low 80s) and I felt very good all day. Pretty good for a Tuesday, huh? Tomorrow, the high is supposed to only be in the upper 50s. Can’t say I’m really looking forward to that. :)
I’ve wondered this and people have asked – how does someone get follicular lymphoma? It’s a good question, but I’m not sure I can completely answer it. There are no known, specific causes of follicular lymphoma, but there are factors that put people at higher risk for developing the cancer.
For starters, let’s understand a little bit about lymphomas, in general, and what makes follicular lymphoma different from other types.
Lymphomas are cancers of the blood cells. Our body’s lymphatic system consists of lymphoid tissue, lymph vessels, and a clear fluid called lymph. Immune system cells work together within the lymphoid tissue to fight infections.
The majority of cells inside the lymphoid tissue are lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. There are primarily two types of lymphocytes: b-cells and t-cells. B-cells produce antibodies to help our bodies fight bacterial and viral infections. T-cells perform a variety of functions from protecting our bodies against viruses to boosting our immune system. Some t-cells even fight certain types of cancer.
Why is it Called Follicular Lymphoma?
When it comes to lymphomas, there are two major forms: hodgkin’s and non-hodgkin’s. Follicular lymphoma is one of several subsets of non-hodgkin’s lymphoma. It is a b-cell lymphoma and the term “follicular” defines the type of cell and how it appears. When follicular lymphoma cells are viewed under a microscope, they have a rounded structure called follicles, thus the name “follicular.”
So, Who Gets Follicular Lymphoma?
That’s tough to say, for sure. Although it’s currently impossible to determine the cause(s) of follicular lymphoma, there are a few things that place a person at a higher risk of developing the cancer:
- Age: The average age for someone diagnosed with follicular lymphoma is 65.
- Ethnicity: It is less common among African-Americans and Asians than other ethnicities.
- Gender: More women than men are diagnosed with follicular lymphoma; however, there is only a slight difference in the percentages.
In addition, the risk factors for non-hodgkin’s lymphoma also apply:
- People who have had an organ transplant or have taken medications to suppress their immune system are at increased risk.
- Interaction with some chemicals, including insecticides and pesticides, can increase a person’s risk.
- Previously having a viral or bacterial infection such as HIV, Hepatitis C, Epstein-Bar, or H-pylori may also increase the risk.
For me, personally, the most interesting risk factor is the H-pylori bacteria. In 2001, I was diagnosed with stomach ulcers. At the time, I had three bleeding ulcers, was hospitalized, and transfused three units of blood. As is common with many people who have ulcers, the H-pylori bacteria was found in my system. Although I can’t prove a connection, my suspicion is that this risk factor contributed to my currently having follicular lymphoma.
Hope you all have a wonderful day!!