|Classification and external resources|
|Specialty||Hematology and oncology|
|Patient UK||Non-Hodgkin lymphoma|
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is a group of blood cancers that includes all types of lymphoma except Hodgkin's lymphomas. Symptoms include enlarged lymph nodes, fever, night sweats, weight loss, and feeling tired. Other symptoms may include bone pain, chest pain, or itchiness. Some forms are slow growing while others are fast growing.
Lymphomas are types of cancer that develops from lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. Risk factors include poor immune function, autoimmune diseases, Helicobacter pylori infection, hepatitis C, obesity, and Epstein-Barr virus infection. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies lymphomas into five major groups, including one for Hodgkin's lymphoma. Within the four groups for NHL there are over 60 specific types of lymphoma. Diagnosis is by examination of a bone marrow or lymph node biopsy. Medical imaging is done to help with cancer staging.
Treatment depends on if the lymphoma is slow or fast growing and if it is in one area or many areas. Treatments may include chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, stem cell transplantation, surgery, or watchful waiting. If the blood becomes overly thick due to antibodies, plasmapheresis may be used. Radiation and some chemotherapy; however, increase the risk of other cancers, heart disease, or nerve problems over the subsequent decades.
In 2013 about 2.96 million people had non-Hodgkin lymphoma and 226,000 died. In the United States 2.1% of people are affected at some point in their life. The most common age of diagnosis is between 65 to 75 years old. The percentage of people who survive five years in the United States is 71%.
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms include enlarged lymph nodes, fever, night sweats, weight loss, and feeling tired. Other symptoms may include bone pain, chest pain, or itchiness. Some forms are slow growing while others are fast growing.
The many different forms of lymphoma probably have different causes. These possible causes and associations with at least some forms of NHL include the following:
- Infectious agents:
- Epstein-Barr virus: associated with Burkitt's lymphoma, Hodgkin's lymphoma, follicular dendritic cell sarcoma, extranodal NK-T-cell lymphoma
- Human T-cell leukemia virus: associated with adult T-cell lymphoma
- Helicobacter pylori: associated with gastric lymphoma
- HHV-8: associated with primary effusion lymphoma, multicentric Castleman disease
- Hepatitis C virus: associated with splenic marginal zone lymphoma, lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma
- HIV infection
- Some chemicals, like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), diphenylhydantoin, dioxin, and phenoxy herbicides.
- Medical treatments, like radiation therapy and chemotherapy
- Genetic diseases, like Klinefelter's syndrome, Chédiak-Higashi syndrome, ataxia telangiectasia syndrome
- Autoimmune diseases, like Sjögren’s syndrome, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) included certain types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma as AIDS-defining cancers in 1987. Immune suppression rather than HIV itself is implicated in the pathogenesis of this malignancy, with a clear correlation between the degree of immune suppression and the risk of developing NHL. Additionally, other retroviruses such as HTLV may be spread by the same mechanisms that spread HIV, leading to an increased rate of co-infection. The natural history of HIV infection has been greatly changed over time. As a consequence, the incidence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) in HIV infected patients has significantly declined in recent years.
In the US, data from 2007–2011 show that there were about 19.7 cases of NHL per 100,000 adults per year, 6.3 deaths per 100,000 adults per year. About 2.1 percent of men and women are diagnosed with NHL at some point during their lifetime, and there were around 530,919 people living with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Globally, as of 2010, there were 210,000 deaths, up from 143,000 in 1990.
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma increases with age steadily.
- Up to 45 years NHL is more common among males than females.
- NHL is the sixth most common cancer in the UK (around 12,800 people were diagnosed with the disease in 2011), and it is the eleventh most common cause of cancer death (around 4,700 people died in 2012).
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While consensus was rapidly reached on the classification of Hodgkin lymphoma, there remained a large group of very different diseases requiring further classification. The Rappaport classification, proposed by Henry Rappaport in 1956 and 1966, became the first widely accepted classification of lymphomas other than Hodgkin. Following its publication in 1982, the Working Formulation became the standard classification for this group of diseases. It introduced the term non-Hodgkin lymphoma or NHL and defined three grades of lymphoma.
Subtypes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma
NHL consists of many different conditions that have little in common with each other. They are grouped by their aggressiveness. Less aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphomas are compatible with a long survival while more aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be rapidly fatal without treatment. Without further narrowing, the label is of limited usefulness for patients or doctors. The subtypes of lymphoma are listed there.
Society and culture
Nevertheless, the Working Formulation and the NHL category continue to be used by many. To this day, lymphoma statistics are compiled as Hodgkin's vs non-Hodgkin lymphomas by major cancer agencies, including the US National Cancer Institute in its SEER program, the Canadian Cancer Society and the IARC.
- Fred D. Thompson, a former United States senator, actor and Republican presidential candidate, died on November 1, 2015 in Nashville. He was 73. The cause was a recurrence of lymphoma, his family said in a statement.
- Andrew Smith, a former basketball player at Butler University who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in January 2014 while playing professionally with Neptūnas in the Lithuanian league, died at age 25 in Indianapolis on January 12, 2016. He underwent a bone marrow transplant in November 2015, but the procedure did not halt the disease, with the lymphoma transforming into an aggressive leukemia.
- John Hartford, an American folk, country and bluegrass composer and musician known for his mastery of the fiddle and banjos well as for his witty lyrics, unique vocal style, and extensive knowledge of Mississippi River lore died in 2001 at age 63.
- Andy Whitfield, a former Welsh actor, died 11 September 2011. He was best known for his leading role in the Starz television series Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
- Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis, former First Lady of the United States, wife of John F. Kennedy, died May 19, 1994.
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- Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma at American Cancer Society
- Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma from Cancer.net (American Society of Clinical Oncology)
- Patient information on non-Hodgkin lymphoma from The Lymphoma Association
- Lymphoma Association – Specialist UK charity providing free information and support to patients, their families, friends and carers