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EXPLAINER: What is lymphoma — the cancer that killed Sound Sultan?

EXPLAINER: What is lymphoma — the cancer that killed Sound Sultan?
July 11
21:22 2021

Many Nigerians were thrown into mourning when the death of Olanrewaju Fasasi, the Nigerian rapper, singer, and songwriter better known as Sound Sultan, was announced.

Kayode Fasasi, a member of the deceased’s family, who broke the tragic news on Sunday, said the ‘Jagbajantis’ crooner died after battling cancer.

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of multitalented veteran singer, rapper, songwriter Olanrewaju Fasasi a.k.a Soundsulatan,” he said in a statement.

“He passed away at the age of 44 following a hard-fought battle with Angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma. He is survived by his wife, three children, and his siblings.”


Here is what you should know about the form of cancer that killed Sound Sultan.


Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that affects the lymphatic system, which removes excess fluids from your body and produces immune cells. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that fights infection, according to the American Society of Hematology.


Once present in the lymph system, lymphoma can quickly spread to different tissues and organs. The lymph system of the body are the spleen, thymus gland, bone marrow, and lymphatic vessels, which are the parts that store and transmit the white blood cells.

According to the National Genome Research Institute, lymphoma can be broadly classified into two — Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The cause of lymphoma is yet to be ascertained by scientists. However, those with weak immune systems or immune diseases are susceptible to this cancer.



According to the National Organisation for Rare Disorder (NORD), angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL) is a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which is a group of related malignancies (cancers) that affect the lymphatic system.

AITL is a form of cancer that affects the T-cells, which are the forms of white blood cells that destroy body cells that have become cancerous.

When someone is affected by AITL, the T-cells of the white blood cells turn into malignant cells. Malignant cells are cancerous or abnormal cells that can negatively affect other parts of the body when they spread.

When the malignant T-cells grow abnormally or multiply uncontrollably, it may cause the enlargement of some parts of the lymph system.


Like lymphoma, the cause of AITL is also not known.



The symptoms may vary from individuals:

  1. Abnormal weight loss
  2. Swollen glands, especially in the armpit, neck, or groin
  3. Sweating at night (night sweats)
  4. Poor health condition
  5. Skin rash
  6. Abnormal enlargement of liver and spleen
  7. Bleeding into the skin (thrombocytopenia)
  8. Weak immune system
  9. Shortness of breath



The diagnosis of  AITL takes different processes. It involves observing the symptoms, computed tomography (CT) scans, clinical evaluation, bone marrow, and lymph nodes biopsy. In carrying out a biopsy, a certain part of the affected tissue is cut out to examine the extent of the disease.

The lymph nodes in some parts of the body like the arm, elbow, and groin regions will be examined to find out if they are swollen. Some internal parts of the body like the spleen and liver will also be examined to see if they are swollen.


After a patient is diagnosed with AITL, there are further diagnostic tests that would be required to determine the stage.


The treatment of AITL is determined by the stage of the disease and it also involves the coming together of several medical practitioners such as medical oncologists, haematologists, radiation oncologists, oncology nurses, and dietitians.

NORD listed corticosteroids, watch and wait, single-agent chemotherapy, and multiagent chemotherapy as the therapies used to treat individuals battling AITL.

The Lymphoma Research Foundation also suggested that a patient battling AITL may be treated with a steroid that can temporarily relieve the symptoms caused by the immune system’s reaction to the cancer cells.

Certain drugs can also be used — especially those that can prevent or destroy tumour cells — with the strict prescription of a physician.

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1 Comment

  1. Spynaija
    Spynaija July 12, 01:11

    Rest in Power legend, we are definitely gonna miss you, *sad*

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