Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a lymphatic cancer, meaning that the cancerous cells originate in white blood cells (lymphocytes) in lymphoid tissue throughout the body. The lymphocytes in various stages of development may mimic a leukemia. The term non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma includes all lymph node cancers that do not have Reed-Sternberg cells.
Cancerous lymph nodes are non-contiguous in non-Hodgkin lymphoma, meaning that they are not next to each other.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can be classified according to the cells from which it originates, such as B and/or T cells. Other categories of classification include level of differentiation and rate of cell growth/division.
Patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma may experience lymphadenopathy or swelling of the lymph nodes. The enlarged lymph nodes are painless and may be made worse by drinking alcohol.
The term ‘B symptoms’ refers to a group of symptoms, usually indicating a poor prognosis. These constitutional symptoms may also be the first sign of disease in patients.
Night sweats are another example of a B symptom, usually indicating a poor prognosis.
Fever is classified as a B symptom, and typically indicates that the patient has a high-grade lymphoma.
Weight loss is also classified as a B symptom, indicating an advanced stage of the disease.
In patients with an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, mediastinal or abdominal masses may be present.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma tends to be more common in men, especially those over the age of 50.
There are more than 60 different subtypes of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
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