Lymphoma signs, symptoms and treatment following Jeff Bridges diagnosis

Marie Claire Dorking
·4-min read

Watch: Jeff Bridges diagnosed with Lymphoma.

Jeff Bridges has revealed he has been diagnosed with lymphoma, but says his “prognosis is good”.

The Oscar-winning actor, confirmed the news in a tweet echoing his Dude character in The Big Lebowski.

“As the Dude would say... New S**T has come to light,” Bridges, 70, wrote. “I have been diagnosed with Lymphoma. Although it is a serious disease, I feel fortunate that I have a great team of doctors and the prognosis is good. I’m starting treatment and will keep you posted on my recovery.”

In a second tweet, he went on to thank his loved ones for their support.

“I’m profoundly grateful for the love and support from my family and friends,” he wrote. “Thank you for your prayers and well wishes.”

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Jeff Bridges has revealed he has been diagnosed with lymphoma, pictured in October 2019. (Getty Images)
Jeff Bridges has revealed he has been diagnosed with lymphoma, pictured in October 2019. (Getty Images)

What is lymphoma?

Lymphoma is a form of cancer that usually starts in the lymph system, which is part of the body's immune system.

It is the fifth most common cancer in the UK and the most common blood cancer in the UK, according to statistics from charity Lymphoma Action.

“Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, and the lymphatic system is an important part of the immune system, it helps to fight infections and diseases and helps to rid the body of toxins and bacteria,” explains Dr Daniel Cichi from Doctor 4 U.

“The lymphatic system runs throughout the body and includes organs such as the spleen, thymus gland, and bone marrow, and has lots of vessels and glands running throughout this system.”

Dr Cichi adds that while lymphoma usually starts in the lymph nodes (glands), the cancer cells can spread to anywhere because the lymphatic system runs throughout the body.

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The two main types of lymphoma are Hodgkin lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes. Treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma is different from other types of lymphoma.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is a cancer of the lymphatic system. According to Cancer Research UK there are more than 60 different types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. They can behave in very different ways and need different treatments.

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Symptoms of lymphoma

“One of the most common and noticeable symptoms of lymphoma is swelling of the lymph nodes usually in the neck, armpits, or groin,” Dr Cichi explains.

“The swelling may not be noticeable to you but they can sometimes cause pain in these areas which may prompt you to see your GP, but often the swellings are painless.”

It is worth noting that lymph nodes also swell as a response to infection so this symptom may not always be caused by cancer.

“These lumps may also be what is known as lipoma (fatty lumps) which are harmless, so you shouldn’t worry, but do see your GP if you notice any swellings or lumps anywhere on your body, particularly around your neck, armpits or groin,” Dr Cichi adds.

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Jeff Bridges says his prognosis is good, pictured in January 2019. (Getty Images)
Jeff Bridges says his prognosis is good, pictured in January 2019. (Getty Images)

There are more general symptoms of lymphoma, which include fever, breathlessness, unexplained weight loss and itchy skin.

“This itching can often be mistaken for a skin condition such as eczema or allergy to a certain substance, but in relation to lymphoma, the itching is thought to be caused by the reaction from the immune system which releases chemicals to fight the cancer cells,” Dr Cichi continues.

He recommends seeing your GP if you have been feeling generally unwell and your immune system has been weaker than usual, but particularly if you find any lumps or swelling.

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Treatment for lymphoma

If you get a diagnosis of lymphoma, your treatment plan will depend on the type of lymphoma you have, your age, general health and how aggressive your cancer is, as some types of lymphoma may be slow-growing.

“Identifying the type of lymphoma helps to determine the best form of treatment, but often both types of lymphoma are treated with chemotherapy and possibly radiotherapy,” Dr Cichi adds.

According to Cancer Research UK the main treatments for Hodgkin lymphoma include chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

For non-Hodgkin lymphoma treatment may include chemotherapy, targeted drugs, steroids, radiotherapy and transplants.

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