Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a malignant tumour that originates from the lymphatic system.
Let's give a brief introduction about the lymphatic system:
It consists of lymphoid organs (as bone marrow, thymus, lymph nodes) and lymph vessels. When a malignant tumour arises from the lymphatic system, it is called Lymphoma.
There are two forms: Hodgkin's lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Today we will talk about Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma as it is much common than Hodgkin's lymphoma.
What are the causes of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma ?
The definite cause is unknown but it has been linked to some viruses and toxins as benzene and pesticides.
Now let's talk about a general simplified view of the mechanism of this cancer.
Symptoms of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma include:- Painless enlarged lymph nodes (usually cervical or supra-clavicular nodes).
Normally, lymph nodes are not felt. If you feel them, then they are enlarged.
(Here is an illustration of the sites of lymph nodes)
- Systemic symptoms as fever, night sweats and weight loss.
- Abdominal pain or swelling.
(From Swartz MH: Textbook of Physical Diagnosis, 5th ed. Philadelphia, WB Saunders, 2006.)
What are the risk factors ?
Individuals who are old aged or taking immunosuppressive drugs or using insecticides are at a higher risk of developing Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is classified according to "The Working Formulation" into:
- Low grade lymphoma
- Intermediate grade lymphoma
- High grade lymphoma
The treatment depends on the histological findings. In general, it may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, total neck irradiation.
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Last edited: 20/2/2012