Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

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Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma facts

  • NHL is a cancer that originates in the lymphatic system.
  • About 69,000 patients are diagnosed yearly, and approximately 19,000 patients die of NHL yearly in the U.S.
  • There are several subtypes of NHL, each requiring different treatments.
  • Symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, fever, and night sweats.
  • NHL is staged on a 1 to 4 scale with A (no associated symptoms like fever, weight loss, or night sweats) and B subtypes.
  • Staging the cancer is important to determine treatment and predict the outcome of treatment.
  • Depending on the stage and type of NHL, treatment can include chemotherapy, biological therapy, stem cell transplant, and/or radiation therapy.

What is non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a type of cancer that originates in the lymphatic system. It is estimated to be the sixth most common cancer in the United States. The lymphatic system is part of the body's immune system and helps fight infections and other diseases. In addition, the lymphatic system filters out bacteria, viruses, and other unwanted substances.

The lymphatic system consists of the following:

Lymph vessels: These vessels branch out throughout the body similar to blood vessels.

  • Lymph: The lymph vessels carry a clear fluid called lymph. Lymph contains white blood cells, especially lymphocytes such as B cells and T cells.
  • Lymph nodes: Lymph vessels are interconnected to small masses of lymph tissue called lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are found throughout the body. Collections of lymph nodes are found in the neck, underarms, chest, abdomen, and groin. Lymph nodes store white blood cells. When you are ill and the lymph nodes are active, they will swell and be easily palpable (your doctor can feel them when she examines you).
  • Additional parts of the lymphatic system: The tonsils, thymus, and spleen are additional components of the lymphatic system. Lymphatic tissue is also found in other parts of the body, including the stomach, skin, and small intestine.

Because lymphatic tissue is found in many parts of the body, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma can start almost anywhere.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/14/2014

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Get information about non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) and Hodgkin's disease.

Hodgkin's and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Differences and Similarities

Both Hodgkin's disease(sometimes referred to as Hodgkin's lymphoma) and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are cancers that originate in a type of white blood cell known as a lymphocyte, an important component of the body's immune system. Both of these malignancies may cause similar symptoms, but the conditions themselves are different. The distinction between Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is made upon examination of the cancerous material (from a biopsy or aspiration of the tumor tissue). The type of abnormal cells identified in the sample determines whether a lymphoma is classified as Hodgkin's disease or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

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