Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL)

Lymphatic System

Lymphatic System

Lymph vessels are fine tubes similar to small blood vessels. They join together to form a network that runs throughout the body. The lymph vessels act like a transport system for a fluid called lymph, which surrounds cells and tissues in the body. The lymph vessels drain lymph from the tissues into the blood as it circulates the body. The lymphatic system is made up of thin tubes and groups of tiny, bean-shaped organs called lymph nodes that are located throughout the body. The largest clusters of lymph nodes are found in the abdomen, groin, pelvis, underarms, and neck. The lymphatic system carries lymph, a colorless fluid containing lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). Lymphocytes are part of the immune system and help fight germs in the body. B-lymphocytes (also called B cells) make antibodies that fight bacteria, while T-lymphocytes (also called T cells) kill viruses and foreign cells and trigger the B cells to make antibodies. Natural killer cells (NK cells) also kill viruses and can directly kill cells infected by viruses.

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL).

Lymphoma begins when B cells, T cells, or NK cells in the lymphatic system change and grow uncontrollably, which sometimes may form a tumor. Because lymphatic tissue is found in most parts of the body, NHL can start almost anywhere and can spread to almost any organ. It most often begins in the lymph nodes, liver, spleen, or bone marrow, but it can also involve the stomach, intestines, skin, thyroid gland, brain, or any other part of the body. Some grow very slowly and may not need treatment for months or years. Other types grow quickly and need treatment soon after diagnosis.

Stages of NHL

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) Symptoms

Symptoms may include:-

  1. A cough, difficulty swallowing or breathlessness (if the lymphoma is in the chest area)
  2. Indigestion, tummy pain or weight loss (if the lymphoma is in the stomach or bowel).

If the lymphoma has spread to the bone marrow (where blood cells are made), it can reduce the number of blood cells in the body. This can cause:-

  1. Tiredness (too few red blood cells)
  2. Difficulty fighting infections (too few white blood cells)
  3. Bruising or bleeding (too few blood-clotting cells, called platelets).

NHL can also cause more general symptoms, including:

  1. Heavy, drenching sweats at night
  2. High temperatures that come and go without any
  3. Obvious cause
  4. Unexplained weight loss
  5. Tiredness
  6. Itching of the skin that does not go away.

Treatment of NHL

Several different types of treatment can be used against non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The treatment options depend on the type of lymphoma and its stage (extent), as well as the other prognostic factors. Six types of standard treatment are used:

  1. Radiation therapy
  2. Chemotherapy
  3. Targeted therapy
  4. Plasmapheresis
  5. Biologic therapy
  6. Watchful waiting

New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.

  1. Vaccine therapy
  2. High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant

Risk Factors of NHL

  1. Age and Gender. NHL is slightly more common in men than in women, 60% are diagnosed in people aged 65 and over.
  2. Weakened Immune System. People whose immune system is not working as well as it should are more likely to develop a lymphoma. A number of viruses and bacteria have been linked with an increased risk of NHL. Infection with a virus called human T cell lymphoma virus 1 (HTLV1) can increase the risk of developing NHL, Epstein Barr virus is linked to an increased incidence of a type of NHL that is more common in Africa than Europe, Helicobacter pylori, can cause a rare type of lymphoma that starts in the stomach, hepatitis C virus patients have 2 or 3 times the normal risk of NHL. The hepatitis B virus also appears to increase the risk of NHL.
  3. Coeliac Disease. Coeliac Disease has been a known risk factor for a rare type of lymphoma of the small bowel, called enteropathy type T cell lymphoma (ETTL). More recently, research has shown an increased risk of B cell non Hodgkin lymphomas too.
  4. Family History. If you have a parent, brother or sister, or child diagnosed with NHL, you have a slightly increased risk of getting it yourself. It’s about 2 to 3 times the average risk.
  5. Cancers and its Treatment. Some types of cancer, particularly blood cancers such as Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia, have been linked to an increased risk of NHL. Some chemotherapy drugs and radiotherapy may increase your risk of developing NHL.

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) Cancer Survival Rate

Estimated New Cases in 2014 70800
% of All New Cancer Cases 4.3%
Estimated Deaths in 2014 18990
% of All Cancer Deaths 3.2%
Percent Surviving 5 Years (2004-2010) 69.3%
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