Posted on 11th February, 2020
by Legal Staff
Suggestive evidence has been found that glyphosate, the active ingredient in many broad-spectrum herbicide formulations like Roundup, Aquamaster, and Bronco can act as a favorable factor for a number of serious illnesses, particularly the forms of cancers grouped together under the category of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. One of the rarest and least understood forms of NHL is Angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL), which makes up only 1-2% of the lymphoma cases diagnosed in the US. First reported in 1974 by Girogio Frizzera, AITL has the uncommon peculiarity of acting in similar ways to an auto-immune disease, where the body's own immune system attacks healthy tissue.
AITL primarily affects the white cells responsible for directly suppressing potentially malignant agents in the body. These are called T-cells, in respect to their point of origin in the thymus gland, and can reach tissue unconnected to the bloodstream via tiny vessels known as lymph canals. The lymphatic system is dotted by nodes where microorganisms that have been inactivated by white cells are stored.
As T-cells become cancerous and begin multiplying uncontrollably, the lymph nodes will usually be the first to exhibit signs of change by growing in size. Often, an organ outside of the lymphatic system will be affected early on, most commonly the liver, and advanced stages of the disease might show involvement from more extra-lymphatic organs.
AITL is considered an aggressive form of NHL, which means it progresses fairly rapidly through its four stages, delineated by the extent of the area the cancer has reached:
Angioimmunoblastic T-cell Lymphoma symptoms rarely paint a clear picture.
All stages are further divided into A and B categories, based on whether the patient experiences any symptoms. AITL might remain asymptomatic until the cancer is significantly widespread, which coupled with a rapid progression means that most people are already in stage III or IV when first diagnosed. When present, signs of AITL can be indistinct from those of other NHL and some infectious diseases:
As malignant T-lymphocytes attack healthy cells, some symptoms will signal autoimmune disorders of the hemolytic anemia and thrombocytopenia variety. Most commonly, patients will experience severe itching, which might be associated with a reddening of the affected area of the skin. A decreased number of platelets - cells involved in blood clotting - will translate into easy or unexplained bruising, and a loss of red blood cells will cause anemia.
Very little is known about what causes this condition. Scientists managed to establish a link between AITL and the administration of certain antibiotics to treat allergies or viral infections. The Epstein-Barr virus has been found in 90% of AITL patients, but it's still disputed that a direct relation exists.
AITL's extreme rarity makes finding a connection with any environmental or genetic factors very difficult, although there is a degree of consensus that one or more yet unidentified antigens (i.e. things that cause an immune response) might be responsible for triggering it. The chances of developing AITL seem to increase with age, as people in their 60s and 70s are most commonly affected, although cases in younger adults or even children are not unheard of.
For the Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma family of disorders in general, exposure to high amounts of harmful radiation, the defoliant Agent Orange and the herbicide glyphosate have been identified as potential risk factors. An active ingredient in many weed killer formulations, glyphosate is by far the most commonly found in the environment among the three. However, dangerous amounts of this probable carcinogen are more likely to be absorbed by the nursery and public park workers professional gardeners, agricultural day laborers, and groundskeepers.
First signs of alarm for any lymphoma are raised when doctors find an unusual number of blood cells through an (often routine) blood test. This is followed by a biopsy, where a tissue sample is harvested from one or more of the swollen lymph nodes to be analyzed under a microscope for the presence of mutated cells. Imaging scans are then used to determine the extent of cancer, together with bone marrow and spleen biopsies. AITL calls for intensive investigation at this stage, as it can conceivably expand to any area of the body reached by the lymphatic system.
During treatment, things are further complicated by its propensity to act as an autoimmune disorder, which calls for both immunosuppressing and cancer-suppressing therapies to be employed. Furthermore, immunotherapy cannot be used as a viable alternative for cancer treatment with AITCL patients; options are limited to toxic chemotherapy and expensive stem cell transplant. The financial cost on the patient and his or her family can be severe, at an average of $82,000 per year.
Many weed killing agents like Roundup are known contributing factors to non-Hodgkin's lymphomas a fact their manufacturers downplayed for years, potentially putting hundreds of thousands of people at risk. If you've developed Angioimmunoblastic T-cell Lymphoma after long-term exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides, there is a possibility to receive compensation for your physical pain, mental suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, physical impairment, grief, anxiety, and emotional distress.