Adult Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Lymphomas are cancers of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system drains excess fluid from tissues. It also helps protect against infections. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a name that applies to many types of lymphomas. These types are based on the cell that is involved and the patterns of growth. In general, these types can be classified as: These cancers are different from Hodgkin’s lymphoma . Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide out of control or order. If cells keep dividing, a mass of tissue forms. These are called growths or tumors. If the tumor is cancer, it is called malignant. It can invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.

  • Causes

    The cause of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is unknown. DNA mutations that occur after birth may be related to this cancer. These mutations can occur as a result of exposure to radiation or cancer-causing chemicals. They may also occur with age or for no apparent reason.

  • Definition

    Lymphomas are cancers of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system drains excess fluid from tissues. It also helps protect against infections.

    Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a name that applies to many types of lymphomas. These types are based on the cell that is involved and the patterns of growth.

    In general, these types can be classified as:

    • Slow growing lymphomas, also known as indolent lymphomas
    • Aggressive lymphomas
    • Highly aggressive lymphomas


    These cancers are different from
    Hodgkin’s lymphoma
    .

    The Lymphatic System
    IMAGE
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide out of control or order. If cells keep dividing, a mass of tissue forms. These are called growths or tumors. If the tumor is cancer, it is called malignant. It can invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.

  • Diagnosis


    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A
    physical exam
    will be done. It will include an exam of your lymph nodes. Most enlarged or swollen lymph nodes result from an infection. If infection is suspected, you may be given medication and told to return.

    If swelling persists, your doctor may order more tests. They will help to determine if there is cancer and what type of cancer is present.

    Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:


    • Excisional or incisional
      biopsy
    • Fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy
    • Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy
    • Spinal tap
    • Immunohistochemistry
    • Flow cytometry
    • Cytogenetics and/or molecular genetic studies
    • Blood tests

    Your doctor may need to view your bodily structures. This can be done with:

    • Chest x-ray
    • CT scan
    • MRI scan
    • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
    • Gallium scan
    • Bone scan
    • Ultrasound

  • Prevention


    There are no guidelines for preventing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. To reduce your risk, avoid exposure to chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, benzene, and chlorinated organic solvents. If you have
    celiac disease
    , maintain your gluten-free diet. This diet will minimize stimulation of your immune system from exposure to gluten.

  • Risk Factors

    Most people who develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma have no known risk factors. However, the following factors may increase your chance of developing this condition:

    • Sex: male
    • Age: 60 to 70 years old
    • Frequent and accumulating exposure to certain types of chemicals, such as herbicides, pesticides, benzene, and chlorinated organic solvents

    • Infections involving the immune system, such as
      HIV/AIDS
      and
      Epstein-Barr virus

    • History of
      chemotherapy
      ,
      radiation therapy
      , or immunosupressive therapy
    • Chromosomal translocations, which occur when DNA breaks off one chromosome and becomes attached to another
    • A parent who has had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, especially if they had it at an early age
    • Celiac disease
      —gluten enteropathy or gluten intolerance
    • Chronic infections, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjogren's syndrome
    • Obesity

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms include:

    • Painless swelling of the neck, underarm, groin, or any other lymph node-bearing regions of the body
    • Unexplained fever
    • Profuse sweating
    • Constant fatigue
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Itchy skin, especially on the legs and feet
    • Red patches on the skin
    • Chest pain or shortness of breath
    • Bruising

  • Treatment

    Treatments
    depend on the stage and type of cancer. The type is determined in part by a microscopic exam and other studies. Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include: