Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, affecting the lymphocytes, types of blood cells which play a fundamental role in the functioning of the immune system. The disease can be Hodgkin or Non-Hodgkin. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can develop from two types of lymphocytes: B cells (B cell lymphoma), in about 85% of cases; or T cells (T cell lymphoma), 15% of cases.
The lymphatic system includes the bone marrow, spleen, thymus, lymph nodes and blood vessels. It defends the body against microbes, parasites, toxins, foreign bodies, and other pathogenic attacks. This vascular system is filled with lymph (clear liquid consisting of nutrients, fats, germs and waste from cells) and irrigates all organs. The cancer can therefore develop in the body in two different ways: cancer cells proliferate to the nodes; or, in about 40% of cases, the cancerous cells develop directly in one or more organs (stomach, intestine, skin, part of the oral cavity, and others), with or without lymph node involvement.
Non-Hodgkins lymphoma occurs most often in a group of lymph nodes (nodal lymphoma) or, more rarely, in another organ such as the stomach, intestine, skin or brain (extranodal lymphoma). Without early and effective treatment, the tumor will spread through the lymphatic system or the blood to other tissue or organ to form other cancers. In this case the tumor becomes metastatic and more difficult to be treated. Please see Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatment.
From one case to another, symptoms, development of the disease and the response of the body to the treatment are different. The good news many patients can be cured today when early and appropriate treatment is applied. It is therefore important to report any early sign or symptom of the disease. Please see lymphoma symptoms.
Non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHL) differ in the appearance and nature of their cells, their mode of development and their impact on the body, when examined under a microscope. Diagnostically, a non-Hodgkin lymphoma is defined depending on the type of cells (B lymphocytes or T lymphocytes) involved, the rate of evolution of the tumor (grade) and the extension of the lymphoma in the body (stage).
There are many types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to the cytological nature or appearance of the cells affected. But overall, these lymphomas are divided into two particular groups: indolent lymphomas; which affect 40 to 50% of patients and can develop over several years; and aggressive lymphomas, which change rapidly to become aggressive, affecting 50-60% of people with the disease.
Affecting the immune system, the cancer can reach nodes and / or any organ in the body. It also causes an overall decline in immunity which puts you at higher risk of developing infection or other diseases. Although its causes are unknown its development is favored by various factors: chronic infections, immune deficiency, exposure to toxic, and others. Please see lymphoma causes.
NHL is the 6th most common cancer in women, and ranked 7th in men. However, lymphoma is still a poorly understood and known medical condition. It is estimated that about 50% of patients diagnosed have never heard of it, and 75% are unaware that this is a form of cancer.