Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is any cancer that begins within the lymphatic system. Normally old white blood cells, called lymphocytes, die while new ones are produced. In non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, old cells instead multiply and divide. The body starts to accumulate large numbers of these abnormal cells, and this often leads to the formation of tumors.
There are various types of this condition, including diffuse large and marginal B-cell lymphomas, follicular lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, mantle cell lymphoma, Burkitt lymphoma, hairy cell leukemia, and peripheral T-cell lymphomas.
While it is a relatively common condition, it is more often seen in seniors rather than young adults or children. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is calculated to be the sixth most common type of cancer in the US, with an estimated 72,000 patients diagnosed with it every year.
The disease is unusual in that patients who develop it often have no clear risk factors, while those with risk factors may never show any signs.
Some types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma develop very slowly, so patients may not experience symptoms for years. When they do appear, they typically include:
It is not entirely known what the exact cause of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is, but, according to researchers, several factors can affect your chances of developing it. For example, people in their 60s or older are at a greater risk factor for lymphoma, although some varieties of lymphoma are more commonly developed by younger people.
Men are at a greater risk of developing NHL, though some varieties can occur more frequently in women. In the US, white people will typically develop NHL more often than African Americans and Asian Americans. Globally, NHL is considerably more common in populace developed countries, with Europe and the United States having the highest rates.
Studies have found that exposure to drugs and chemicals like benzene, herbicides, and insecticides might be linked to a higher risk of NHL. Certain chemotherapy drugs that are used to treat other cancers have been found to increase the risk of a person developing NHL.
Finally, radiation exposure also has an effect. After studying survivors of atomic bomb and nuclear reactor incidents, it was found that they had an elevated risk of developing including NHL. Also, cancer patients treated using radiation therapies are at a higher risk of developing NHL later in life.
As there are different types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, treatment depends partly on what type it is, how far along it has progressed, and the patient’s overall health and age. However, there are some therapies that are commonly used regardless of specifics. Chemotherapy is one of the more frequently used tactics to kill the abnormal cells that are developing too quickly.
Patients might also be prescribed bone marrow stimulants to assist the body in producing larger numbers of normal blood cells. Other forms of treatment include stem cell transplants, radiation therapy, steroids, radioimmunotherapy, and biological therapy. Cases of slow-developing lymphoma may not need treatment right away.
Typically the risk factors of NHL are not things that those who have developed this cancer can change, making prevention difficult. Still, there are steps that can be taken to lower the chances of developing NHL.
Limit the risk of contracting infections that target the immune system, like HIV, by avoiding unprotected sex with several partners and intravenous drug use. Use antibiotics and antacids to treat Helicobacter pylori infections, which have been linked to lymphomas found in the stomach, can lower NHL risks.
Being overweight or obese can increase a person’s risk of developing NHL, as well as a consuming a diet with a high volume of fat and meats – therefore, trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet can help keep the risk of developing NHL low.