How Stem Cell Transplant Works Against Specific Cancers: Lymphoma

The need for a stem cell transplant arises when the body requires a restoration of the blood-forming stem cells. These cells are often destroyed by high dosage of chemotherapy drugs and extreme energy from radiation therapy. You can learn more about the interrelation of stem cells and chemotherapy in cancer treatment at “Chemotherapy and Stem Cells”.

Stem Cell Transplants are most often used in blood-related cancer diseases such as leukemia and lymphoma (know more about stem cell transplant and leukemia at “How Stem Cell Transplant Works Against Specific Cancers: Leukemia”). Sometimes they are also used to treat conditions of neuroblastoma and multiple myeloma.

There are 2 main types of stem cell transplant, namely:

  • Autologous: stem cells are taken from the person who will get the transplant before the procedure takes place.
  • Allogenic: stem cells are taken from a match or unrelated benefactor who donates them.

Lymphoma: An Overview of the Lymphatic System

To understand lymphoma, otherwise known as “lymphatic cancer”, as a disease, one must know about the system in which lymphoma begins – the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system. The primary function of this system is to transfer the lymph (a water-like fluid that cleans the body’s tissues to keep them firm and then drains it away). The lymphatic system is composed of the lymphatic vessels, lymph nodes, tonsils, adenoids, spleen, and thymus.

Functions of the Lymphatic System

In the body’s circulatory system, blood is filtered through the capillaries. During the filtration process, fluids (lymph) are forced from the blood into the interstitial spaces. The fluid in the interstitial spaces is picked up by the lymphatic system. Then recycled back into the veins to replace the volume of blood that was lost during the filtration process. If the body fails to recover this fluid, then tissues will be filled with excessive fluid. This causes the volume of blood to severely decrease. The blood will not be able to push into the blood vessels because it will be viscous. It is caused by the increase in red blood cells and protein than the normal blood actually has.

Interstitial fluid recovered by the lymphatic system may contain nutrients, oxygen, hormones, and fatty acids, as well as toxins, cellular waste products, and pathogen (bacteria, virus, or microorganisms that cause disease) that have made it into the tissues. Another function of the lymphatic system is to ensure that the fluid gathered from the interstitial spaces are inspected and cleansed by the lymph nodes, spleen, and thymus before foreign cells or pathogens can freely wander the body.  The lymphatic system houses many immune cells and functions in both specific and non-specific immunity.

  • Specific Immunity – also known as “adaptive immunity”, is specialized immunity for particular pathogens. Helper T-cells, cytotoxic T-cells, and B-cells are involved in specific immunity.
  • Non-specific Immunity – also known as “innate immunity”. It is comprised of general mechanisms your body deploys every day to keep you safe. They are always working in the background, no matter what pathogens you are exposed to.

The body’s small intestine consists of many blood capillaries that absorb nutrients. However, dietary lipids cannot be absorbed into the bloodstream. These lipids, then, are put into “little packages” called chylomicrons (CMs) which are then released from the cell via exocytosis. CMs are then moved into the lacteals (a lymphatic vessel in the small intestine) which are in-charge of the lipid absorptions.


This is a type of cancer that involves cells of the immune system called lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that helps fight infection. This occurs when lymphocytes divide abnormally or fails to die when they’re supposed to. Lymphocytes travel the body via the lymphatic system through the lymph nodes found throughout the body. There are 2 types of lymphoma: Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The difference between the two may be classified upon check up by the presence of a specific type of abnormal cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell (large, abnormal lymphocytes that may contain more than 1 nucleus). This cell is only present in Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Stem Cell Transplant in Lymphoma

Due to the adoption of a stem cell transplant, doctors are able to give high doses of chemotherapy and radiation therapy to treat this type of lymphoma because cells in the bone marrow can be replaced. High doses of chemo and radiation are harmful to the body because they can potentially kill cells in the bone marrow. Stem cell transplants are used in a patient on remission or relapse during or after treatment.

Lymphoma and Naturopathy

Recent data in the United States suggest that vitamin D deficiency is linked to higher cancer incidence.  Even the efficacy of conventional treatments rely on the overall health of a person. With these in mind, it is best to nourish the body and allow it to do its “natural” mechanism — to heal itself. This could be done through proper diet and exercise. However, special treatments are needed for more serious diseases like lymphoma. Naturopaths are the ones you can go to who uses the  approach of making  use of natural, non-toxic therapies to promote holistic healing process.

Image by DarkoStojanovic / CC BY 2.0