Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is cancer that starts in cells called lymphocytes, which are part of the body’s immune system. While the exact cause is unknown, it may be triggered by infections or a compromised immune system.
If you or a loved one are worried about developing Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, this section details more about what Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is, how it develops and what the common symptoms are.
If you are facing Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, we have information to help you understand more about what lies ahead, such as how lymphoma is diagnosed, possible treatments and where to get further support.
Lymphoma is a cancer that develops in the lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s immune system. It occurs when lymphocytes, white blood cells that help protect the body from infection and disease, begin behaving abnormally. Lymphocytes are in the lymph nodes and other lymphoid tissues, such as the spleen and bone marrow.
There are two main types of lymphomas: Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is far more common than Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and behaves, spreads and responds to treatment differently.
Because lymph tissue is found throughout the body, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma can develop in almost any part of the body. The most common place for cancer to occur is in the lymph nodes, called a nodal lymphoma. However, some lymphomas develop in other tissues around the body that the lymphatic system extends to, such as the kidneys and gut. These are called extranodal lymphomas. From there, cancer can then spread to organs such as the spleen, bone marrow, liver or lungs.
According to Leukemia and Lymphoma Research , there are at least 35 different types of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This cancer can occur in both adults and children.
Symptoms of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma vary, depending on the area of the body affected by the disease. Common symptoms include:
Make an appointment with your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, especially if you have a lump on your body that hasn’t gone away. While enlarged lymph nodes are much more commonly caused by infections than lymphoma, it is still important to have your symptoms checked by your doctor.
Your doctor will conduct various tests and procedures to diagnose Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. These can include:
After being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, your doctors will also need to find out where the lymphoma is in your body, how many groups of lymph nodes are affected, and whether or not it has spread to other organs. This process is called staging. Staging is very important because the treatment and your outlook for survival depend on the exact type and stage of the cancer.
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is commonly staged from I to IV:
Your treatment options are determined based on your personal circumstances, including the type and stage of your lymphoma, your age and your overall health. The American Cancer Society suggests getting a second professional opinion to help you feel more confident with the treatment plan you choose.
The main types of treatment for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma are:
The majority of people with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma do not have any of the known risk factors associated with the disease. This means that, for now, there is no proven way to protect against and prevent Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
However, the American Cancer Society holds that avoiding known risk factors is still the best preventative measure one can take to reduce the risk of developing Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Some known risk factors are: