Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma - Topic Overview
What is non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
lymphoma (NHL) is cancer of the
lymphatic system, which is part of the
immune system. The lymphatic system is found
throughout the body. When you have this disease, cells in the lymphatic system
either grow without control or do not die as cells normally do.
There are many types of NHL. Sometimes they are grouped as:
- Aggressive lymphomas, which are also called
intermediate-grade and high-grade lymphomas. These cancers tend to grow and
spread quickly and cause severe symptoms.
- Nonaggressive lymphomas,
which are also called indolent or low-grade lymphomas. These tend to grow and
spread quite slowly and cause few symptoms.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is different from
NHL can start almost
anywhere in the body. It may start in a single
lymph node, a group of lymph nodes, or an organ such
spleen. NHL can spread to almost any part of the body,
including the liver and
Treatment can cure some
people and may allow others to live for years. How long you live depends on the
type of NHL you have and how early it's diagnosed.
What causes non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
The cause of
NHL is not known. The abnormal cell changes may be triggered by an infection or
exposure to something in the environment. It is not contagious.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of NHL
- A painless swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm,
or groin. This is the most common symptom.
- Fever not caused by
another health problem.
- Night sweats.
Weight loss you can't explain.
- Itchy skin.
- Reddened patches on the skin.
- A cough or shortness of
- Pain in the belly or back.
How is non-Hodgkin's lymphoma diagnosed?
doctor will do a physical exam and ask you questions about your health. The
exam includes checking the size of your lymph nodes in your neck, underarm, and
Your doctor will take a piece of body tissue (biopsy) to diagnose NHL. The tissue usually is taken
from a lymph node. Your doctor also may do other test, including tests to see
what kind of NHL you have.
How is it treated?
Your treatment depends on the
type of lymphoma you have, the stage of the disease, your age, and your general
health. You may not need treatment until you have symptoms. The treatment
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