Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma

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  • Topic: Lymphoma, Cancer, Biopsy
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  • Published : February 22, 2012
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Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Jessica Fujita

Southeastern Institute

Mrs. Malmsten

Author Note

Jessica Fujita, Medical Assisting, Southeastern Institute of Nashville TN.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jessica Fujita, Medical Assisting, Southeastern Institute, Nashville Campus, Nashville TN, (615)889-9388. E-mail:

Lymphoma makes up 5% of all cancer cases in the country, with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) being the 6th most common. NHL is a cancer that starts in cells called lymphocytes, which are apart of the body’s immune system. Lymphocytes are in the lymph nodes and other lymphoid tissues, such as the spleen and bone marrow. There are two types of lymphomas: Hodgkin’s lymphoma is named after Dr. Thomas Hodgkin, who first described it, and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). NHL can occur at any age and are often marked by lymph nodes that are larger than normal, fever, and weight loss. There are many different types of NHL. These types can be divided into aggressive (fast-growing) or indolent (slow-growing) types, and they can be formed from either B-cells or T-cells. B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas include Burkitt lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, immunoblastic large cell lymphoma, precursor B-lymphoblastic lymphoma, and mantle cell lymphoma. T-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas include mycosis fungoides, anaplastic large cell lymphoma, and precursor T-lymphoblastic lymphoma. Lymphomas that occur after bone marrow or stem cell transplantation are usually B-cell NHL. Prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and type of disease. In 2009, it was estimated that there were 65,980 new cases and 19,500 deaths from NHL in the United States alone.

To understand NHL it is good to know a little about how the lymphatic system works. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system that aides the body in fighting infections and diseases. The lymphatic system is a network of specialized organs that include the thymus, spleen, tonsils, lymph nodes, and lymphatic vessels. Lymph nodes can be found in clusters under the skin in areas of the neck, underarms, groin, chest, and abdomen. Lymph nodes are connected by lymphatic vessels that carry lymph, a colorless fluid that obtained from the body’s tissue and eventually the lymphatic fluid is channeled back into the bloodstream. NHL begins when a lymphocyte becomes abnormal, These cells divide and continue dividing making more abnormal or cancerous cells. (Jaffe ES, Pittaluga S, pg 1379-1396, 2005)

Risk Factors

Most cases of patients diagnosed with NHL have no obvious risk factors, and the ones who do have risk factors never seem to develop it. Some risk factors that could have a part in being diagnosed with NHL include the following: Infections

Several types of infections may raise the risk of NHL in different ways. Some viruses can directly affect the DNA of lymphocytes, helping to transform them into cancer cells. The human T-cell leukemia/lymphoma virus (HTLV-1) and the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) seem to work in this way. Infection with HTLV-1 increases a person’s risk of certain types of T-cell lymphoma. This virus is most common in Japan and in the Caribbean region but is found throughout the world. In the United States, it causes less than 1% of lymphomas. HTLV-1 spreads through sexual intercourse and contaminated blood and can be passed to children through breast milk from an infected mother.

In areas of Africa where Burkitt lymphoma is common, infection with the EBV is an important risk factor for this disease. In developed countries such as the US, EBV is more often associated with lymphomas in patients infected with HIV. It has also been linked with developing nasal T-cell lymphoma and post-transplant...
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