Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma is a type of cancer that begins within immune system cells called lymphocytes. Similar to other cancers, lymphoma occurs when lymphocytes are uncontrollably growing and multiplying. These lymphocytes are white blood cells that move throughout the body with the help of a fluid called lymph. There they are transported by a network of different vessels that make up the lymphatic system, which is a part of the immune system.
The main job of the lymphatic system is to fight off infections or anything else that threatens the body. The lymphatic system consists of different lymph nodes located throughout the body to help monitor the lymph that flows through them. These lymph nodes can be very helpful in predicting signs of possible cancer. The nodes will begin to tenderize and swell when a large amount of microbial organisms collect insides of them, indicating infection. There are two main types of lymphocytes, B-cells, and T-cells. Both are designed to recognize and destroy infections, however, B-cells travel through the body with the infection, while T-cells kill the infection directly. When these cells begin to multiply too quickly, they begin to build up in the lymph nodes, forming a giant mass of cells called a tumor. Once this tumor forms, it begins to grow, invading the space of nearby organs and tissues, cutting off their oxygen supply. If these abnormal lymphocytes travel between lymph nodes, or to other organs, the cancer can spread and metastasize to other regions of the body, making it much more difficult to control and get rid of. Non-Hodgkins is classified and derived from either abnormal B or T-cells and has thirty different subtypes (Clarke 139).
In the United States each year, about fifty-four thousand people are diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, making it the most common type of blood cancer in the U.S (Clarke 138). The symptoms of this disease may be difficult to discover, since often times they may appear suddenly and be painless. These symptoms can include swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or groin. This swelling may be painless and go unnoticed. There may also be discomfort or a fullness in the abdomen, feeling very tired or weak, shortness of breath, as well as fever and weight loss. It is important to get these symptoms checked out and monitored by a doctor to result in better treatment if needed.
There are certain risk factors that may increase the risk of Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, such as immune system deficiencies, chemicals, and older age. Certain medications that suppress immune system efficiency, as well as organ transplants, greatly increase the risk of new disease due to immunosuppressive therapy reducing the body's ability to fight off new diseases (Clarke 142). There are also viruses and bacteria that have been linked to the increased risk of Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Viruses that have been linked include HIV and Epstein-Barr virus, more commonly known as herpes. Helicobacter Pylori, an ulcer-causing bacteria found in the stomach that has also been known to increase the risk of getting lymphoma. Although, more research needs to be conducted to connect pesticides with the risk of Non-Hodgkins, certain insect and weed killing pesticides can also increase the risk. Age is another factor that is to be considered, although people at any age can get cancer, Non-Hodgkins is most common in people sixty or older.
To diagnose lymphoma, a full physical must be conducted, as well as looking into family history. A oncologist will then be called in to review the findings and decide where to go next. When screening to find how far cancer has spread, several techniques can be used. These include x-rays, computerized tomography scans, magnetic resonance imaging, as well as lymphangiograms. Bone marrow examinations are also common to test if infected with abnormal B or T-cells. The best way to test for cancer is by conducting a biopsy and testing a small...
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