Mantle cell lymphoma
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What is mantle cell lymphoma?
Symptoms of mantle cell lymphoma
Causes of mantle cell lymphoma
Diagnosis of mantle cell lymphoma
The stages and grades of mantle cell lymphoma
Treatment for mantle cell lymphoma
After treatment for mantle cell lymphoma
Support for people with mantle cell lymphoma
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Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). MCL develops when B-cells become abnormal (cancerous). B-cells are white blood cells that normally help fight infection. They are sometimes called B-lymphocytes.
The abnormal B-cells (lymphoma cells) usually build up in lymph nodes, but they can affect other parts of the body.
For healthcare professionals
If you are a healthcare professional, use our guide to find the right information and support for your patients affected by lymphoma. This explains the support available from Macmillan and from other trusted organisations.
Painless swelling in the neck, armpit or groin
Some people do not have any symptoms, but a painless swelling in the neck, armpit or groin is the most common sign of MCL. It is caused by lymphoma cells building up in the lymph nodes, which makes them bigger.
Some people also have symptoms that doctors call B symptoms. These can include:
- drenching night sweats which require a change of nightwear and bed covers
- high temperatures (fevers) with no obvious cause
- unexplained weight loss.
Knowing if you have any B symptoms will help your doctor to stage the lymphoma and plan your treatment.
Sometimes MCL can affect other areas of the body. These can include the spleen, bowel and bone marrow.
Depending on where the lymphoma spreads to, this can cause symptoms such as:
- loss of appetite
- sickness (nausea)
- a full feeling in the tummy – this is caused by an enlarged spleen
- anaemia – this is caused by the low number of red blood cells in your blood.
The causes of mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) are mostly unknown. MCL is most common in people over the age of 70. It is more common in men than women.
Like other cancers, MCL is not infectious. It cannot be passed on to other people.
We have more information about causes and risk factors for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Sometimes MCL can be found with a routine blood test. But usually the most common test for diagnosing lymphoma is a biopsy. A doctor will take a sample of tissue from the affected area. The most common place to take a biopsy from is an enlarged lymph node. This is called a lymph node biopsy. You may have all or a part of the lymph node removed. The tissue will be sent to a laboratory for testing.
You may also have biopsies taken from other areas of your body, such as your bowel. This is done during a test called a colonoscopy.
You can read more about the tests you may have in our information about non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Waiting for test results can be difficult. You may find it helpful to talk to your family, friends or specialist nurse.
Booklets and resources
Your test results will help your doctors find out how many areas of your body are affected by lymphoma and where these areas are. This is called staging.
Lymphomas are also grouped as either low-grade or high-grade. Low-grade lymphomas are usually slow growing. High-grade lymphomas usually grow more quickly. Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) can be either high-grade or low-grade.
Knowing the stage and grade of the lymphoma helps your doctor plan the right treatment for you.
We have more information about the stages and grades of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
A team of specialists will meet to discuss the best possible treatment for you. They are called a multidisciplinary team (MDT).
Your doctor, cancer specialist or nurse will explain the different treatments and their side effects to you. They will also talk to you about things to consider when making treatment decisions.
The aim of treatment is to get rid of as much of the lymphoma as possible.
Treatment for mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) may depend on:
- the stage of the lymphoma
- whether it has become active again after previous treatment
- whether you have symptoms that are causing problems.
The most common treatments for MCL include:
Immunotherapy and chemotherapy
MCL is often treated with a combination of the immunotherapy drug rituximab and chemotherapy. This is called chemoimmunotherapy. If the MCL responds well to rituximab and chemotherapy, you may continue to have regular treatments of rituximab on its own. The aim is to keep the lymphoma in remission. This is called rituximab maintenance. Your doctor can tell you how long maintenance treatment might continue.
People who are well enough to cope with the side effects of intensive treatments may be given a combination that includes high doses of the chemotherapy drug cytarabine. You may have the following treatments:
- R-DHAOx – rituximab, the steroid dexamethasone, high-dose cytarabine (ARA-C), oxaliplatin
- R-Maxi CHOP/H Ara-C – rituximab, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin (or hydroxydaunorubicin, vincristine (oncovin), the steroid prednisolone, high dose cytarabine (Ara-C).
Steroids are drugs that are often given with chemotherapy to treat lymphomas. They can help make chemotherapy more effective.
Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells, while doing as little harm as possible to nearby healthy cells. It can be used to treat stage 1 or 2 MCL, or to relieve symptoms such as pain.
MCL usually comes back after treatment. Doctors are trying to find improved ways of treating it and controlling it for longer periods. We have more information about treating lymphoma that has come back.
You may have some treatments as part of a clinical research trial.
People often have many different feelings when they finish lymphoma treatment. You may feel relieved that treatment has finished, but worried about what will happen in the future.
You will have appointments with your lymphoma doctor or nurse less often than before. But at the same time, you may have new challenges to cope with and things to think about.
We have information below about some of the things people ask about after lymphoma treatment. But you may have other questions or need information about something else. If there is something you want to talk about at any point after treatment, you can:
Side effects of lymphoma treatment
You may have some ongoing side effects as you recover from lymphoma treatment. You can use our impacts of cancer A-Z to search for information about managing different symptoms and side effects. Or find out more about side effects of treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma or treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Tiredness and fatigue
Sometimes side effects may continue or develop months or years after treatment. These are called late effects. We have more information about long-term and late effects of treatment for lymphoma.
Well-being and recovery
It can take time to recover after lymphoma treatment. Some days you may feel better than others.
It is important to know where to get support or information if you need it. People often need support even some time after lymphoma treatment. But sometimes it is difficult to know who to ask for help. To find support:
- ask your GP or someone from your cancer team for advice about support in your area
- search cancercaremap.org to find cancer support services near you
- call us free on 0808 808 0000 or talk to us online - our cancer information and support specialists can offer guidance and help you find what you need.
Our course Help to Overcome Problems Effectively (HOPE) helps people during and after cancer treatment. It is a free, interactive, group based, self management support course. It runs for 6 weeks, with each weekly session lasting 2.5 hours. To find out more about HOPE courses in your area, email ServiceOpsSupport@macmillan.org.uk
A healthy lifestyle can help speed up your recovery. Even small lifestyle changes may improve your well-being and long-term health.
Booklets and resources
Talk to someone about mantle cell lymphoma
Everyone has their own way of dealing with illness and the different emotions they experience. You may find it helpful to talk things over with family and friends or your doctor or nurse.
Macmillan is also here to support you. If you would like to talk, you can:
More information and advice
We know cancer can affect you physically, emotionally and financially. We have information and advice about different ways cancer might impact you, such as help with:
Booklets and resources
Other organisations who offer information and support
The organisations below also offer information and support:
Blood Cancer UK
Supporting someone with lymphoma
When someone you know is diagnosed with lymphoma, it can be difficult to know how to support them. You may want information to help you understand what they are going through. Or you may be worried about what to say.
We have information to help with the practical, emotional and financial impacts of supporting someone. You can also talk to us by:
Booklets and resources
We are working to make our website as accessible as possible. We want everyone to be able to use it to find the information they need. We have tips about using settings on your computer or device to help you use our website in our accessibility statement.
We also provide information in a range of languages and formats. If you cannot find the information you are looking for in the format or language you need, email us at email@example.com
Order our non-Hodgkin lymphoma booklet
It is quick, easy and free to order our booklet Understanding non-Hodgkin lymphoma on be.Macmillan.org.uk
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Find our non-Hodgkin lymphoma booklet ebook and pdf
If you prefer a pdf, ePub or Mobi version, our Understanding non-Hodgkin lymphoma booklet is available in these formats.
Booklets and resources
Find non-Hodgkin lymphoma information in your language
We have a range of translated cancer information. This includes information about different cancer types, being diagnosed, cancer treatment, and side effects. We have some lymphoma information in the following languages. You can also search our most up to date list of web pages we have translated on request.
- Bulgarian - Mantle cell lymphoma / Мантелноклетъчен лимфом [PDF]
- German - Follicular lymphoma / Follikuläres Lymphom (FL) [PDF]
- Polish - Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) / Chłoniak rozlany z dużych komórek B [PDF]
- Polish - Lymphoma / Chłoniak [PDF]
- Slovak - Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) / Anaplastický veľkobunkový lymfóm [PDF]
- Slovak - Follicular lymphoma / Folikulový lymfóm [PDF]
- Tamil - Follicular lymphoma [PDF]
If you would like any of our lymphoma information translated into your language, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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You can watch our BSL videos about cancer on YouTube.
Find our easy read booklets
Our easy read booklets use simple words and pictures to tell you about cancer. They can be useful if you want information that is easier to understand.
Looking for large print, Braille or another format?
Below is a sample of the sources used in our mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at email@example.com
Dreyling M, Geisler C, et al on behalf of the ESMO Guidelines Working Group. Newly diagnosed and relapsed mantle cell lymphoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Annals of Oncology, 2014. 25 (Supplement 3): iii83–iii92. Available from www.annalsofoncology.org/action/showPdf?pii=S0923-7534%2819%2934092-X
McKay P, Leach M, et al. British Committee for Standards in Haematology. Guidelines for the investigation and management of mantle cell lymphoma. British Journal of Haematology. 2012. 159 (4), 405–426.
This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Dr Anne Parker, Consultant Haematologist.
Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.