Follicular Lymphoma

Follicular lymphoma is one of most commonly occurring non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) types.

This disease impacts centrocytes and centroblasts which are types of b cells.  It is called follicular lymphoma because of its distinct pattern of appearance and the follicular composition of the tumor.

As with just about any disease, the causes are variable and complex and include things like diet, exercise, exposure to environmental toxins, genetics and chance.  However, the specific mechanism by which follicular lymphoma occurs involves a chromosomal translocation which prevents certain cells from regular cell death, therefore making their growth abnormal.

Follicular lymphoma is an indolent lymphoma, meaning that it is usually – but not always – slow growing (see: grading) and often calls for a “watch and wait” approach to treatment.  It was previously thought that it cannot be completely cured (this is now debatable) but treatment is usually quite effective in patients with indolent lymphoma types and patients often live many, many years after diagnosis.

A major concern with follicular lymphoma is that it has the potential to grow into a more serious form of lymphoma.  However, deciding upon treatment is a personal decision since studies have demonstrated similar survival rates in patients who initiated treatment to those who postponed it until they exhibited disconcerting symptoms such as tumor growth, organ involvement or overwhelming impact on quality of life.

For these reasons, many patients forego treatment and monitor the progress of their disease carefully.  Others prefer to take action – any action – in the treatment of their disease although there is no demonstrable benefit in doing so and the side effects caused by treatment can be worse than anything the patient may currently be experiencing.

Follicular Lymphoma Grading

fNHL (follicular non-hodkins lymphoma) severity is graded according to the quantity of certain types of cells in the body.

Grade 1 lymphomas are called indolent lymphomas and usually require a patient approach of monitoring and waiting the patient’s condition.  Treatment is typically administered on an as-needed basis.  Grade 1’s are viewed as chronic conditions with no definitive cure, although many patients enjoy relatively unaffected, long lives.

Grade 2 lymphomas usually call for a more active treatment approach as they are faster-growing and threaten the body more significantly.

Grade 3 lymphomas are yet even more aggressive and are met with aggressive similarly aggressive treatment.  Survival rates are lower for grade 3’s than for grade 1’s and grade 2’s but even this particular follicular lymphoma can be treated quite effectively.