Non-hodgkin's Lymphoma

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Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) is one of the two most common types of lymphoma. It affects the immune system, and it starts with the proliferation of white blood cells in the immune system by mutating. However, the exact cause is unknown. 

What Is the Lymphatic System? 

The lymphatic system or lymph system is an essential part of our immune system. It is a network of tubes and tissues that runs throughout the body. Working similarly to blood, it has an extensive network of vessels that run through nearly all of our tissues to allow the movement of lymph fluid. It maintains fluid balance in the body. It plays a role in absorbing fats and fat-soluble nutrients. And it also protects the body from disease by removing germs (bacteria, viruses, and parasites) toxins.  

The lymphatic system contains lymph that carries white blood cells called lymphocytes.  

These lymph types consist of:  

  • B cells that produce antibodies that fight bacteria and other infections. 
  • T cells that destroy viruses and foreign cells and trigger B cells to produce antibodies.  
  • Natural killer (NK) cells destroy specific invaders such as viruses, virus-infected cells, and cancer cells. 

About Non-Hodgking’s Lymphoma 

Non-Hodgking’s lymphoma is much more common than the other types. It can include many different types of lymphoma that all share some of the same characteristics. Generally, it develops in lymph nodes, stomach, small intestine, bone marrow, lymph tissue, lymph nodes, and skin. Lymphoma cells can be seen in all body parts or a single area. 

NHL occurs when mature B, T, and NK lymph cells in the lymphatic system mutate and grow uncontrollably. However, the most common type of NHL is B-cell lymphoma. If NHL is not treated, cancerous cells replace normal white cells, and the immune system cannot provide adequate protection against infection. 

There are many different subtypes of NHL, either indolent (slow-growing) or aggressive (fast-growing). Two of the most frequently asked questions regarding lymphoma are “Is lymphoma a type of blood cancer?” and “Is lymphoma contagious?”. Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer and is not contagious. NHL is primarily seen in people aged 60-74 years. 

The signs and symptoms of non-Hodgking’s lymphoma can be listed as follows; 

  • Painless swelling of lymph nodes in neck, armpits, or groin 
  • Persistent fatigue 
  • Fever 
  • Night sweats 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Unexplained weight loss 
  • Itchy skin or debris 

Although most people diagnosed with NHL do not have obvious risk factors, some factors that can increase the risk of NHL include: 

  • Use of drugs that suppress your immune system. 
  • Infections from certain viruses and bacteria. 
  • Chemicals. 
  • Older age. 

Types of Lymphoma 

There are over 60 different types of lymphoma, which are sorted into groups or sub-types. The most common types are listed as follows: 

  • Lymphoma in children and young people: Some types of lymphoma are more common in children and young people than in adults, and they can be treated differently. 
  • Hodgking’s lymphoma (HL): Hodgking’s lymphoma (Hodgkin’s disease) is a cancer that starts in white blood cells called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are part of the body’s immune system. 
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma: Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (sometimes called NHL, or just lymphoma) is cancer that starts in cells called lymphocytes, part of the body’s immune system.  
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL): CLL and SLL are different forms of the same disease and are often classified as types of B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They are treated in the same way.  
  • Skin lymphoma: Lymphoma only in the skin is not treated the same as lymphoma that affects the whole body. Are lymphomas that start in the skin are called skin lymphomas (or cutaneous lymphomas). 
  • Central nervous system lymphoma (CNS): This type of lymphoma affects the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and eyes). 

Differences and Similarities Between Hodgkin’s & Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 

  • Both types of lymphoma are cancers that begin in a subset of white blood cells called lymphocytes. 
  • Both have similar symptoms. 
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is more common than Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  
  • The main difference between HL and NHL is in the specific lymphocytes each contains. If there are Reed-Sternberg cells in the cells examined under the microscope, it is classified as HL, and if there is no Reed-Sternberg cell, it is classified as NHL. 
  • HL can be seen in the 40s and NHL over 55. 
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma may arise in lymph nodes anywhere in the body, whereas Hodgkin’s lymphoma typically begins in the upper body, such as the neck, chest, or armpits.