B-cell lymphoma makes up 85% of all non-Hodgkin lymphomas, one of the most common cancers in the United States. B-cell lymphoma affects your lymphatic system, which is a network of lymph nodes, lymph vessels and tissues that move fluid around your body. B-cell lymphoma survival rates are steadily improving as researchers look for more effective treatments.
B-cell lymphoma frequently affects your lymphatic system, which is a network of lymph nodes, lymph vessels and tissues that move fluid around your body. Lymph is one of the fluids your lymphatic system carries through your body. Lymph contains white blood cells called lymphocytes. B-cells, or B-lymphocytes, make antibodies that fight infection. Normally, healthy B-cells die to make room for more B-cells.
B-cell lymphoma happens when healthy B-cells change into fast-growing cancer cells that don’t die. The cancer cells duplicate, eventually overwhelming healthy cells. The cancer cells can also spread to other areas of your body including the bone marrow, spleen or other organs.
Survival rates continue to improve as researchers identify more effective treatments. Approximately 65% of people diagnosed with the most common form of B-cell lymphoma are alive five years after diagnosis and considered cured.
There are more than 70 types of B-cell lymphoma. Here are the most common:
People between ages 65 to 74 represent more than 25% of all diffuse large B-cell lymphoma cases, the most common type of B-cell lymphoma. More men than women develop diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, with Hispanic men representing the largest ethnic/racial group affected by B-cell lymphoma.
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B-cell lymphoma has many symptoms, and many of the symptoms below may be related to other conditions. Symptoms that may be related to B-cell lymphoma include:
Sometimes random events that can’t be traced to a specific cause will transform B-cells from healthy, infection-fighting white blood cells into cancer cells. But researchers have turned up connections between the following conditions and/or activities:
Some research indicates people who have prolonged and extensive exposure to certain herbicides used in agriculture may have a slightly increased risk of developing lymphoma. That being said, it’s not likely that lymphoma is caused by infrequent or occasional herbicide exposure.
Healthcare providers use a range of tests to diagnose B-cell lymphoma:
B-cell lymphoma treatment options typically include the following:
Each B-cell lymphoma treatment has different side effects. And people often react differently to any given treatment. Talk to your healthcare provider about each treatment option and potential side effects. Understanding how your treatment might affect you can help you feel more confident about managing side effects.
Unfortunately, there is no proven strategy to reduce your risk for developing lymphoma. Talk to your healthcare provider about your medical history and your concerns that you might be at risk for B-cell lymphoma.
There are many ways to treat B-cell lymphoma and survival rates continue to improve as researchers find more effective treatments.
Treatment for B-cell lymphoma can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and newer treatments such as targeted therapies, immunotherapies and CAR T-cell therapy. Understanding how to manage treatment side effects is an important part of self-care. In addition, there are other things you can do to take care of yourself:
Ask your healthcare provider if there are physical changes you should look for as you go through treatment or physical changes that might indicate your cancer is progressing. Let your provider know any time you have questions or concerns. You should also contact them any time you have unexpected or unusual side effects from treatment or changes in your body.
Many cancer treatments affect your immune system, increasing the chance you'll develop infections. You may also have unusually strong side effects from your cancer treatment. While your healthcare provider likely gave you medication to help control your side effects, you should go to the emergency room if your side effects continue despite medication. Symptoms that might require an emergency room visit are:
A diagnosis of B-cell lymphoma encompasses a lot of different cancer sub-types. Understanding your specific diagnosis will help you feel confident about your choices and help you create a plan for living with cancer. Here are some questions to consider:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
B-cell lymphoma symptoms can look and feel just like many less serious illnesses, so it can be a shock when your seemingly simple health issue turns out to be cancer. You might need some time to work through your emotions. When you’re ready, your healthcare providers will be there to help you understand your diagnosis and your treatment options. Understanding your illness can help you feel more confident about your next steps.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/02/2021.
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