A Brief Discussion of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma


Non-Hodkins lymphoma (NHL or lymphoma) is a cancer of the lymphatic system that develops in the lymphoid tissue, which contains lymphocytes that are found throughout the body. There are two types of lymphocytes, B cells and T cells, which have different actions in the immune system. B lymphocytes produce antibodies against bacteria and viruses, and attract white blood cells, blood proteins, and other cells in the immune system to devour the anti-body coated invader. There are several different types of T lymphocytes that all have unique functions. Some T cells destroy cancer cells, and others fight viruses, fungi, and bacteria. All T lymphocytes produce cytokines which attract white blood cells that help destroy invaders. According to the American Cancer Society, non-Hodgkins lymphoma develops from B lymphocytes 85% of the time, and the other 15% from T lymphocytes.



The initial diagnosis of cancer is frightening for anyone, and it is no different with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Because lymphoid tissue is found throughout the body, the cancer can originate almost anywhere in the body, such as in the lymph nodes, spleen, digestive tract, tonsils, and many other parts of the body. There are approximately thirty different types of lymphoma recognized, which can make diagnosis difficult in many cases. Treatment differs depending on which type of non-Hodgkins lymphoma is present, whether it is fast growing, if it is localized, or if it has invaded surrounding tissues. As mentioned earlier, lymphoma caused by B lymphocytes is a fast growing type of cancer that can quickly spread if not diagnosed early. Successful treatment is dependent on early detection before the lesion has spread throughout the lymphatic system.

Treatments for non-Hodgkins lymphoma vary depending on the type of lymphoma present, and the individual circumstance. Treatments are tailored specifically for each patientís case, because no two people or their situations are exactly alike. What may work for one, may not for another. Obtaining a second opinion is recommended before beginning any type of treatment, especially if there is some question about the recommendations being made. In the case of major surgery, the patient should most definitely seek a second opinion. Most insurance companies will allow for a second opinion in many cases. For more information on non-Hodgkins lymphoma, including signs and symptoms, early diagnosis, and various treatments and interventions, visit the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, and www.lymphomafocus.org.

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