Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, also known as non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer in the lymphatic system of the body. This type of cancer causes tumors to develop, which can then spread throughout your body. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma does not always need treatment, depending on the type you have and the symptoms or signs your body is experiencing.
There are several different types of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but the most common versions are follicular or diffuse large B-cell lymphomas. Non-Hodgkin’s occurs when the body makes too many abnormal lymphocytes, or white blood cells. In most people, the body will create new lymphocytes as the old ones die. However, if the lymphocytes simply create new ones while the old ones grow and divide without dying, they can overcrowd into the lymph nodes making them swell and causing Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin’s can start in different cells, such as the B cells or the T cells. In most cases, the abnormal lymphocytes happen in the lymph nodes, but may spread to any area of the lymphatic system, such as the tonsils, bone marrow, spleen, or adenoids. In rare cases, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma may spread to organs that are not in the lymphatic system.
While there are no genetic risk factors involving Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, there are certain risks that are considered higher to developing this cancer. If you are on any medication that lowers or suppresses your immune system, this places you at a higher risk of developing Non-Hodgkin’s. People who are age 60 or older are at a higher risk of Non-Hodgkin’s than other ages; however, this cancer can occur at any age. Some infections are considered to raise the risk of developing Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. These may include Epstein-Barr virus, HIV, and Helicobacter pylori. Some studies and doctors believe that even certain chemicals are linked to those suffering from Non-Hodgkin’s, although there is not enough research to confirm the exact type of chemicals or their link to the disease.
If you are diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, you may or may not need treatment. While you may have the abnormal lymphoma that do not die, if they are not causing signs or any symptoms of illness, treatment can be delayed for years to see if they do cause anything. Even if treatment were delayed, you would still need to go to your physician for regular monitoring. This is very important to make sure that the cancer is not spreading or causing damage to the lymphatic system without symptoms occurring.
There are not many symptoms of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and not every patient will have the same symptoms. One of the most obvious symptoms is the swollen lymph nodes of the neck, groin, or armpits. Others may include chest pain, fever, weight loss, swelling, or pain in the stomach, and even night sweats. If you do have symptoms from Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, treatment may be required immediately, instead of waiting. The type of treatment or drugs would depend on how aggressive it is and could include medications, chemotherapy, radiation, or stem cell transplant.