Cancer / Oncology Leukemia Lymphoma

Myeloma and lymphoma: What are the causes and risk factors?

Multiple myeloma (MM) and lymphoma (LYM) are malignancies that affect blood cells. Lymphoma is a cancer of lymphocytes, whereas MM is a cancer of plasma cells. White blood cells include plasma cells and lymphocytes.

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MM is a cancer that affects plasma cells in the bone marrow.

Lymphoma is a lymphocyte cancer. These white blood cells are found in blood and lymph tissue and originate in the bone marrow.

This article compares and contrasts the two types of cancer. It also examines the many types of lymphoma.

Gender and sex exist on a spectrum. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to the sex assigned at birth. To learn more, visit here.

Table of comparisons

scientist at lab

The two forms of cancer are compared in the table below:

MMLymphoma
Definitiona cancer of plasma cells present in the bone marrowa cancer of lymphocytes, which are white blood cells
Risk factorsRisk factors include:
• being over the age of 65 years
• being male
• having a family history of MM
• having obesity
• having other plasma cell diseases
Risk factors include:
• being male
• having certain viral or bacterial infections
• being in one’s 20s or over the age of 55 years
• having a weakened immune system
• having an autoimmune condition
• having a family history of lymphoma
• having obesity
• having experienced radiation exposure
SymptomsSymptoms include:
• bone pain and weakened bones
• low levels of red and white blood cells and blood platelets
• increased thirst
• frequent urination
• dehydration
• kidney problems
• back pain
• weakness
• shortness of breath
• itching
• swollen legs
• more frequent infections
Symptoms include:
• enlarged lymph nodes
• itchy skin
• fatigue
• loss of appetite
• coughing and chest pain
• trouble breathing
• fever
• night sweats
• unexplained weight loss
• swollen abdomen
• a feeling of fullness even after eating small amounts of food
• easy bruising
TreatmentTreatment options include:
• chemotherapy
• immunomodulating agents
• proteasome inhibitors
• stem cell transplants
• surgery and radiation therapy
Treatment options include:
• chemotherapy
• radiation therapy
• immunotherapy
• stem cell transplants
OutlookThe average 5-year survival rate for a person with MM is 55.6%.The average 5-year survival rate for a person with Hodgkin lymphoma is 81–91%.

The average 5-year survival rate for someone with non-Hodgkin lymphoma is 72%.

Causes and risk factors

The causes and risk factors for each of the two cancers are as follows:

MM

The following factors, according to the American Cancer Society, can enhance a person’s risk of having MM:

  • being over the age of 65 years
  • being male
  • having a family history of MM
  • having obesity
  • having another plasma cell disease, such as monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance

Furthermore, African Americans are more than twice as likely as white persons to be affected by MM. Health professionals, on the other hand, are baffled as to what is causing this.

Lymphoma

Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma are the two most common kinds of lymphoma.

A person’s risk of Hodgkin lymphoma is increased by the following factors:

  • being in their 20s or over the age of 55 years
  • being male
  • having a family history of lymphoma
  • having a weakened immune system
  • having an autoimmune condition

Mononucleosis, or mono, is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). When a person has mono, they are more likely to get Hodgkin lymphoma. This risk, however, is still very low, at about 1 in 1,000.

A person’s risk of acquiring non-Hodgkin lymphoma is increased by the following factors:

  • being over the age of 60 years
  • being male
  • having experienced exposure to radiation
  • having a weakened immune system
  • having an autoimmune condition
  • having obesity or overweight

Furthermore, certain viral and bacterial infections can raise a person’s risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. EBV, human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1), and human herpes virus 8 are among them.

Breast implants can produce anaplastic large cell lymphoma, a kind of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, in rare cases.

Symptoms

The symptoms of each of the two cancer types are as follows:

Symptoms
Bone problemsThis includes bone pain, commonly in the back, hips, and skull. It also includes bone weakness, or osteoporosis, and broken bones.
Low blood countsSymptoms of low red blood cell levels include weakness, shortness of breath, and dizziness.
Low levels of white blood cells can weaken a person’s immune system and make them more vulnerable to infections.
Low levels of blood platelets can cause a person to bleed more than normal, even from minor cuts.
High calcium levels in the bloodThis can cause a number of symptoms, such as thirst, frequent urination, dehydration, kidney problems, constipation, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, drowsiness, and weakness.
Damage to the nervous systemThis can lead to such symptoms as severe back pain, numbness in the legs, and muscle weakness.
Kidney problemsMM can cause damage to the kidneys. Symptoms of this often take a while to arise, but when they do, they can include weakness, shortness of breath, itching, and swollen legs.

Infections are more common in people with MM. If a person with MM gets an infection, they may take a long time to recover.

Lymphoma

The presence of a lump under the skin, which is an enlarged lymph node, is the most prevalent symptom of Hodgkin lymphoma.

The neck, under the arm, and the groin are the most prevalent locations for these lumps. They usually don’t hurt, but they can if a person consumes too much alcohol.

Other Hodgkin lymphoma signs and symptoms include:

  • itchy skin
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • coughing and chest pain
  • trouble breathing
  • fever
  • night sweats
  • unexplained weight loss

Swollen lymph nodes are another symptom of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Lumps under the skin may occur as a result of this.

Other non-Hodgkin lymphoma symptoms include:

  • chills
  • unexplained weight loss
  • fatigue
  • swollen abdomen
  • a feeling of fullness even after eating small amounts of food
  • chest pain
  • coughing and shortness of breath
  • frequent infections
  • easy bruising or bleeding

Treatment

Treatment options for MM and lymphoma are discussed in the sections below.

MM

A doctor will analyze a person’s health and personal goals in order to determine the optimal treatment plan for them.

The following are some therapy possibilities for someone with MM:

  • chemotherapy, which destroys or controls the growth of cancer cells
  • immunomodulating agents, which work alongside the immune system to kill cancer cells
  • stem cell transplant, which can produce new, healthy blood-forming cells to replace the ones that chemotherapy destroyed
  • surgery, although this is uncommon

Lymphoma

Most kinds of lymphoma are treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Immunotherapy is another treatment option for people with lymphoma. This treatment entails the administration of medications that aid in the proper functioning of the immune system. Immunotherapy aids the immune system in identifying and eliminating cancer cells.

For most kinds of lymphoma, stem cell transplants are a viable therapy option.

Outlook

Age, general health, and the time of diagnosis are all factors that can affect a person’s survival time.

MM

A person with MM has a 55.6 percent chance of living for 5 years after being diagnosed.

Lymphoma

Depending on the stage of their illness, a person with Hodgkin lymphoma has an average 5-year survival rate of 81–91 percent.

Any individual with non-Hodgkin lymphoma has a 72 percent five-year survival rate.

Diagnosis

When diagnosing MM or lymphoma, clinicians frequently start by asking about the patient’s personal and family history. After that, they may do a physical examination.

After that, a doctor will prescribe a series of tests to determine the type of cancer.

These tests include the following:

  • a blood count test
  • a blood chemistry test
  • a urine test
  • a bone marrow biopsy
  • an X-ray
  • CT scan
  • an MRI scan
  • an echocardiogram

To diagnose lymphoma, a clinician may need to do a lymph node biopsy.

Can one cause the other?

A person who has had cancer may acquire another cancer. This is referred to as “second cancer” by medical professionals.

A person who has had a blood cancer, such as MM or lymphoma, is more likely to have another.

A person with MM also has a higher risk of acquiring acute myeloid leukemia.

Hodgkin lymphoma patients can develop any sort of secondary malignancy. They are, however, at a higher risk of some cancers, such as leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which are linked to therapies like chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients can acquire any sort of secondary malignancy. They have a higher risk of developing a variety of malignancies, including leukemia.

Types of lymphoma

The following are examples of other forms of lymphoma:

Follicular lymphoma

Follicular lymphoma is summarized in the table below:

Follicular lymphoma
DefinitionIt is the second most common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It arises from B lymphocytes, making it a B-cell lymphoma.
Risk factors• being 60 years old or older
• having a family history of the condition
• having a weakened immune system
• taking immunosuppressive medications
• having certain viral infections, including EBV
• smoking
• having obesity
• consuming alcohol
Symptoms• swollen lymph nodes
• fatigue
• shortness of breath
• fever
• night sweats
• unexplained weight loss
• infections
Treatment• chemotherapy
• radiation therapy
• stem cell transplants
• immunotherapy
OutlookThe 5-year survival rate is 85–96%.

Mantle cell lymphoma

Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is described in the table below:

MCL
DefinitionIt is a type of lymphoma that begins in the part of the lymph node called the mantle zone.
Risk factors• being around 68 years old
• being male
• having a family history of the condition
• having a weakened immune system
• taking immunosuppressive medications
Symptoms• fatigue
• loss of appetite
• vomiting
• unexplained weight loss
• fever and night sweats
• nausea
• swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin
• heartburn
• abdominal pain
• lower back pain often moving down to the legs
Treatment• chemotherapy
• immunotherapy
OutlookThe average survival time after a diagnosis ranges from 1.8 to 9.4 years, depending on how aggressive the cancer is.

Adult T-cell lymphoma

The table below shows an overview of adult T-cell (ATL) lymphoma:

ATL lymphoma
DefinitionIt is an aggressive type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that affects T cells.
Risk factors• having an HTLV-1 infection
• being male
• having a family history of the condition
Symptoms• fatigue
• swollen lymph nodes
• skin rashes
• bone pain
Treatment• antiviral therapy
• chemotherapy
• stem cell transplants
• immunotherapy
OutlookATL has a poor prognosis, with short overall survival even with treatment.

B-cell lymphomas

The table below gives an overview of B-cell lymphomas:

B-cell lymphomas
DefinitionThese affect immune cells called B lymphocytes.
Risk factors• having a weakened immune system
• having an autoimmune condition
• having a viral infection
• being over the age of 60 years
• having experienced exposure to certain chemicals
Symptoms• fever and night sweats
• unexplained weight loss
• fatigue
• loss of appetite
• abdominal pain
• severe itching
Treatment• chemotherapy
• immunotherapy
• stem cell transplants
• radiation therapy
OutlookThe 5-year survival rate is 57–73%Trusted Source.

Lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma

The table below shows an overview of lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma (LPL):

LPL
DefinitionThis is a slow-growing type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that begins in B cells.
Risk factors• being over the age of 50Trusted Source years
• being male
• having a family history of the condition
• having a hepatitis C infection
• having an autoimmune condition
Symptoms• fatigue
• weakness
• fever and night sweats
• swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin
• dizziness
• unexplained weight loss
• visual difficulties, such as blurred vision
Treatment• chemotherapy
• immunotherapy
• stem cell transplants
• radiation therapy
OutlookThe average survival time is approximately 5 yearsTrusted Source. However, around 40% of people with this cancer survive for 10 years or more.

Summary

Both MM and lymphoma are cancers of the blood. Lymphoma begins in lymphocytes, while MM begins in plasma cells. Both of these cell types are immune system cells.

Chemotherapy, immunotherapy, stem cell transplants, and radiation therapy are all used to treat certain tumors.

Many factors influence the outlook for MM and lymphoma.

A person with MM has a 55.6 percent five-year survival rate. An individual with Hodgkin lymphoma has a 5-year survival rate of between 81 percent and 91 percent. A individual with non-Hodgkin lymphoma has a 72 percent five-year survival rate.

Sources

  • https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/mulmy.html
  • https://www.cancer.org/cancer/hodgkin-lymphoma.html
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/multiple-myeloma-vs-lymphoma
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5705939/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7072336/
  • https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ajh.25487
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538206/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513356/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5872614/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK536985/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3384553/
  • https://www.cancer.org/cancer/multiple-myeloma.html
  • https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-hodgkin-lymphoma.html
  • https://www.cancer.org/cancer/waldenstrom-macroglobulinemia/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html

About the author

Chukwuebuka Martins

Chukwuebuka Martins is a writer, researcher, and health enthusiast who specializes in human physiology. He takes great pleasure in penning informative articles on many aspects of physical wellness, which he then thoroughly enjoys sharing to the general public.