Mantle cell lymphoma is a blood cancer that starts in white blood cells in your lymph nodes. There’s no cure for mantle cell lymphoma, but there are treatments that put the condition into remission. Providers and researchers are finding new treatments and new ways to use existing treatments to make remission periods last longer.
Mantle cell lymphoma is a rare blood cancer that starts in white blood cells in your lymph nodes. This type of cancer often grows slowly before starting to grow more rapidly. Mantle cell lymphoma quickly spreads throughout your lymphatic system and to other parts of your body. There’s no cure for mantle cell lymphoma, but there are treatments that put the condition into remission. Remission means you don’t have symptoms and tests show no signs of cancer. Medical researchers are testing new treatments to make remission periods last longer.
Mantle cell lymphoma is a subtype of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It’s called mantle cell lymphoma because it starts in B lymphocytes (B cells) located in mantle zones of the lymph nodes. Mantle cell lymphoma often begins as a slow-growing (indolent) disease that later grows rapidly (aggressive). In advanced forms of this disease, cancer spreads from your lymph nodes to places like your bloodstream, bone marrow and digestive system.
This is a serious illness because it can spread very quickly to become an advanced form of cancer. Mantle cell lymphoma is not a curable lymphoma. In most cases, treatment can put the condition into remission.
Unfortunately, cancer in remission isn’t the same as cancer that’s been cured. Mantle cell lymphoma can come back (relapse) after being in remission for months or years.
Over time, the cycle of remission and relapse revolves more quickly until treatment can no longer put the disease into remission. With newer targeted treatments, remission periods for mantle cell lymphoma have significantly increased.
Mantle cell lymphoma typically affects people age 60 to 70. Men and people designated male at birth (DMAB) are three times more likely to develop the condition than women and people designated female at birth (DFAB).
About 1 in 10 people with mantle cell lymphoma have a slow-growing version of the condition. But for most people, mantle cell lymphoma is an aggressive form of cancer that requires immediate treatment.
No, it’s rare, affecting 1 in 200,000 people.
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Mantle cell lymphoma has many symptoms. Some symptoms are common physical problems that people may not realize are cancer symptoms. That’s one reason why most people already have widespread mantle cell lymphoma at the time of diagnosis.
Healthcare providers refer to some symptoms as B symptoms because they’re clear signs of B-cell lymphoma. B symptoms include drenching night sweats, fevers that don’t go away with over-the-counter medication and unexplained weight loss. This is losing at least 10% of your weight within six months without diet or exercise. Other symptoms are:
Most of the time, mantle cell lymphoma happens when certain genes mutate and change how your B lymphocytes function. In mantle cell lymphoma, abnormal B cells make too much cyclin D1, a protein that helps B cells grow. The cyclin D1 overload makes B cells duplicate and multiply uncontrollably. The duplicate cells make tumors that become lymphoma.
Researchers don’t know what triggers this genetic change. Healthcare providers use genetic analysis to diagnose mantle cell lymphoma and develop treatment.
Healthcare providers diagnose this condition by doing a physical examination and asking about symptoms. They’ll typically focus on symptoms like swollen lymph nodes. They’ll also do the following laboratory tests:
Healthcare providers also analyze blood and tissue samples to obtain information about the disease’s genetic makeup. Understanding the mutations helps providers stage cancer and develop treatment plans.
Cancer staging systems lay the foundation for cancer treatment. Healthcare providers stage cancer by collecting information about specific conditions. Then they use specific staging systems to place conditions in certain categories or stages.
To stage mantle cell lymphoma, healthcare providers consider factors like:
They also use a disease-specific staging system called the Mantle Cell Prognostic Index (MCPI). Healthcare providers use the index to estimate if mantle cell lymphoma is likely to come back. The index is based on the following factors:
Treatment varies based on your specific situation. You may have mantle cell lymphoma without having symptoms. In that case, your provider may recommend watchful waiting instead of starting treatment. Providers typically use chemoimmunotherapy (combined chemotherapy and immunotherapy) as initial or frontline treatment.
Here is information on treatment options:
Healthcare providers and medical researchers are investigating new treatments to increase remission time and the amount of time between remissions and relapses. Ask your provider for information about participating in clinical trials for new treatments.
You can’t prevent this condition. Mantle cell lymphoma is a genetic disorder that happens when genes mutate or change. Researchers don’t know why these genes mutate so there’s nothing you can or should do to prevent this condition.
A prognosis is an estimate of what you may expect if you have treatment for a given illness. With an incurable disease like mantle cell lymphoma, a prognosis is an estimate of how long you may live.
In mantle cell lymphoma, healthcare providers base prognoses on factors including:
If you have this condition, it’s important to remember a prognosis is an estimate based on other people’s experiences with mantle cell lymphoma. Your healthcare provider is your best resource for information about what you can expect.
No, there’s no cure for mantle cell lymphoma. There are treatments that put the condition into remission.
In general, people with mantle cell lymphoma live two to nine years after diagnosis. Survival rates vary depending on whether the condition is indolent (slow growing) or aggressive. Studies show people at high risk for relapse live about two years after diagnosis and people at low risk are alive five years after diagnosis.
If you have mantle cell lymphoma, you’re living with a disease that never really goes away. There are treatments that put this condition into remission for months. But mantle cell lymphoma always comes back (relapses). You may go through several cycles of remissions and relapses, and you’ll need new or different treatment when your symptoms come back.
You’re also living with uncertainty. You may spend a lot of time and energy worrying and wondering when a relapse will happen. You may worry about new treatment side effects and if the new treatment will send your condition back into remission. It’s natural to have these feelings. But if worrying about what’s next keeps you from enjoying life, ask your healthcare provider for help. Your provider knows you and your medical history. They’re your best resource for information about when your condition may come back. They’ll also explain what changes in your body may signal a relapse or simply be an everyday ache or pain. Here are other suggestions that may be helpful:
If you’re receiving treatment, you’ll see your healthcare provider on a regular basis. They’ll help you manage treatment side effects, evaluate whether treatment is effective and monitor your overall health. If you’ve finished treatment and your condition is in remission, you’ll see your healthcare provider for maintenance therapy and follow-up appointments so your provider can check on your overall health and any signs your condition has come back.
Mantle cell lymphoma is a rare illness. Until you learned you had this condition, you may not have known it existed. You may have many questions for your healthcare provider. Here are a few for your consideration:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Healthcare providers can’t cure mantle cell lymphoma. They can help you to live with mantle cell lymphoma. They can provide treatments that eliminate cancer cells and cancer symptoms and put the condition into remission. Mantle cell lymphoma typically comes back after remission. When that happens, healthcare providers use different treatments to put the condition back into remission. Medical researchers are evaluating treatments to increase the amount of time between remissions and relapses.
If you have mantle cell lymphoma, you may be interested in clinical trials testing new ways to treat the condition. The new treatments may not cure mantle cell lymphoma, but they may give you more symptom-free time to enjoy life. Ask your healthcare provider if you could be a candidate for a clinical trial. They’ll be glad to help you.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/17/2022.
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