Actor Jeff Bridges has revealed he is being treated for lymphoma.
The 70-year-old actor channelled his Big Lebowski character to break the news on Twitter, sharing that his prognosis is good and that he will keep fans updated with his recovery.
Lymphoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, yet many people are unaware of the signs and symptoms. We asked a medical expert to explain everything you need to know – from its causes to its symptoms…
What is lymphatic cancer?
“Lymphatic cancer is also known as lymphoma,” explains Majid Kazmi, consultant haematologist at London Bridge Hospital (part of HCA UK). “It is a malignant growth of cells of the lymphatic system which are part of our immune system that helps fight infections.”
Kazmi explains that there are many sub-types of lymphoma, but the two most common are Hodgkins disease (lymphoma) and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. “Non-Hodgkins lymphoma can also be classified as high-grade (grows quickly) or low grade (slow growing) lymphoma,” he notes
Grade is very important when it comes to lymphoma, as it refers to how abnormal the cells look under the microscope. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can occur at any age, but the NHS report that your chances of developing the condition become higher with age, and just over a third of cases are diagnosed in people over 75.
What are the symptoms?
The tricky thing about lymphoma is spotting the signs. Because it affects the lymphatic system, which is found throughout the body, Kazmi warns symptoms of lymphoma can be very non-specific.
“It can present with swollen glands such as in the neck or armpits, or with patients feeling generally unwell.
“A person might also experience unexplained weight loss or persistent drenching sweats.”
Often, Kazmi notes lymphoma can be an incidental finding on a blood test, and patients will report they’ve experienced no symptoms at all.
How can it be treated?
Not all lymphomas need treatment straight away, says Kazmi. Some lower-grade lymphomas can just be observed if not causing any symptoms or problems.
“Where it does need treatment it really depends on extent of disease and the sub-type of lymphoma,” he stresses.
“Treatment options may include radiotherapy, chemotherapy or immunotherapy, which will be co-ordinated under the care of a team led by a haemato-oncologist.”
Fortunately, Kazmi says that the prognosis for many lymphomas is very good.
Cancer Research UK notes that high grade lymphomas, which are more aggressive, will require more aggressive treatment options, but often respond well with medical intervention, and many people receive the all-clear.
If you have any concerns about your health, or changes to your wellbeing, always speak to your GP.