Follicular lymphoma is a very slow-growing cancer that may appear in your lymph nodes, your bone marrow and other organs. There are ways to treat follicular lymphoma, but the condition often returns. Healthcare providers are hopeful newer treatments may mean a cure for follicle lymphoma is on the horizon.
Follicular lymphoma is a very slow-growing cancer that may appear in your lymph nodes, your bone marrow and other organs. You can have follicular lymphoma without having symptoms. Healthcare providers consider follicular lymphoma a chronic illness. There are ways to treat follicular lymphoma, but the condition often comes back. Healthcare providers are hopeful newer treatments may mean a cure for follicle lymphoma is on the horizon.
Approximately 3.5 people in 100,000 have follicular lymphoma. People age 65 and older are more likely to have this condition than younger people, and people assigned male at birth (AMAB) are more likely than those assigned female at birth (AFAB) to develop follicular lymphoma.
Follicular lymphoma is a subtype of B-cell lymphoma, a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Follicular lymphoma symptoms mirror non-Hodgkin lymphoma symptoms, such as swollen lymph nodes, fever and drenching night sweats.
But many people are diagnosed with follicular lymphoma before they develop symptoms. People who’re in good health and don’t have symptoms may not need immediate treatment. Healthcare providers may recommend watchful waiting. In watchful waiting, healthcare providers monitor your overall health and symptoms.
Follicular lymphoma may affect your emotional well-being long before it affects your physical well-being. A recent study showed people with follicular lymphoma and other slow-growing lymphomas struggle with anxiety because they don’t know if they’ll develop symptoms or need to start treatment.
Yes, follicular lymphoma can be a serious and challenging illness. Here’s why:
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General symptoms may include:
Researchers don’t know all of the factors that cause follicular lymphoma. They do know changes in people’s chromosomes cause about 85% of cases. The changes allow unhealthy or cancerous cells to multiply and grow.
Healthcare providers may use several tests to diagnose follicular lymphoma:
Healthcare providers establish cancer stages so they know what kind of treatment may be best to treat the cancer. Follicular lymphoma stages range from I to IV:
Healthcare providers may use a combination of watchful waiting and therapy to treat follicular lymphoma. Here’s more information about each potential treatment:
Unfortunately, researchers haven’t identified ways to reduce the risk of developing this condition. If you’re concerned you may be at risk, ask your healthcare provider to review your medical history, including your family medical history.
Follicular lymphoma is a slow-growing condition that’s considered a chronic illness. Studies about half of all people diagnosed with follicular lymphoma are alive nearly 20 years after diagnosis. About 90% of people are alive five years after diagnosis.
Self-care is an important part of living with cancer. Self-care suggestions include:
If you’ve been diagnosed with follicular lymphoma, your healthcare provider will set a schedule of follow-up appointments to monitor your condition and/or your treatment. But you should contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible if you notice changes in your body that may be signs of follicular lymphoma symptoms.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Cancer is never easy, even a slow-growing form of cancer like follicular lymphoma. People who have follicular lymphoma may not have symptoms for several years. But when they do, they may find themselves cycling treatment, remission, relapse and then more treatment, with no end or cure in sight. But researchers are using different treatments that may do more to move follicular lymphoma from the list of chronic diseases to the list of curable diseases. If you have follicular lymphoma, talk to your healthcare provider about your treatment options.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/25/2022.
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