Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can develop from either type of lymphocyte, but B-cell lymphomas are much more common. Different types of lymphoma can develop from each type of lymphocyte, based on how mature the cells are when they become cancerous and other factors.
Symptoms may include:
- a cough, difficulty swallowing or breathlessness (if the lymphoma is in the chest area)
- indigestion, tummy pain or weight loss (if the lymphoma is in the stomach or bowel).
- If NHL spreads to the bone marrow, it can reduce the number of blood cells. This can cause:
- tiredness (too few red blood cells)
- difficulty fighting infections (too few white blood cells)
- bruising or bleeding (too few blood-clotting cells, called platelets).
Other symptoms may be similar to Hodgkin Lymphoma.
Risks of lymphoma
Although non-Hodgkin lymphoma can happen at any age, most cases (60%) are diagnosed in people aged 65 and over. Overall, NHL is slightly more common in men than in women.
Weakened immune system
People whose immune system are not working efficiently are more likely to develop lymphoma. The immune system can be adversely affected by taking drugs to stop organ rejection after a transplant, having HIV or AIDS, being born with a rare medical condition that affects immunity or having any autoimmune diseases. Infections – There has been some infections that have increased the risk of Lymphoma, namely:
- T cell lymphoma virus 1 (HTLV1)
- Epstein Barr virus
- Helicobacter pylori
Having a parent, brother or sister diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma slightly increases your risk. The general risk is still small.
Previous cancer and treatment
Some other types of cancer, and treatment may also increase your risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. You might also be at a higher risk if you've had a melanoma.
Diagnosing lymphoma cancer
The most important initial assessment is a thorough history and a complete physical examination, paying attention to other medical and surgical issues in the individual. Physical examination also aids in looking for the best possible site for lymph node biopsy, with minimal morbidities.
After a solid pathological diagnosis is achieved, the individual will have the following tests performed for completion of clinical staging and risk stratification:
- Blood test to determine organ function
- Imaging, commonly whole-body CT scan and occasionally PET scan
- Bone marrow examination
The initial assessment will give the treating doctor a complete view of the disease, considering the stage of disease, co-morbidities, and prognostic factors. Such information is vital in designing a treatment plan.