What are non-Hodgkin lymphomas?
Lymphoma is cancer of a type of white blood cell called a lymphocyte. Lymphocytes and other white blood cells help your body fight disease.
Lymphocytes travel through your blood vessels and then through your lymphatic system. Your lymphatic system is made up of your lymph nodes and lymph vessels. Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped organs that fight disease and are in your neck, groin, and armpits.
In lymphoma, your lymphocytes grow out of control and build up in your lymph nodes and sometimes your liver, spleen, and inside your bones (your bone marrow).
Non-Hodgkin lymphomas are a group of many different lymphomas. They can involve several different types of lymphocyte. Hodgkin lymphoma Hodgkin Lymphoma Lymphoma is cancer of a type of white blood cell called a lymphocyte. Lymphocytes and other white blood cells help your body fight disease. The lymphatic system is part of the body’s immune... read more involves one particular type of lymphocyte.
Enlarged lymph nodes are a symptom of non-Hodgkin lymphomas—your lymph nodes get bigger, but they aren’t usually painful
You may have pain or breathing problems if enlarged lymph nodes press on your organs
Treatment may include radiation therapy Hodgkin Lymphoma Lymphoma is cancer of a type of white blood cell called a lymphocyte. Lymphocytes and other white blood cells help your body fight disease. The lymphatic system is part of the body’s immune... read more , chemotherapy Chemotherapy Chemotherapy is a drug that destroys cancer cells. Chemotherapy works by shutting down cell growth. But since all cells in the body grow, chemotherapy drugs also destroy some normal cells and... read more , other medicines called monoclonal antibodies, or a combination of these treatments
Doctors group non-Hodgkin lymphomas into 2 main types:
Indolent lymphoma, which grows slowly
Aggressive lymphoma, which grows quickly
Indolent lymphoma is easier to treat, and you can live with it for many years. But it usually can’t be cured. Aggressive lymphoma needs intense treatment but can often be cured.
You can get non-Hodgkin lymphomas at any age.
What causes non-Hodgkin lymphomas?
Doctors don’t know what causes non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Viruses may cause some types.
What are the symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphomas?
Lymph nodes in your neck, under your arms, or in your groin get bigger—but usually don’t hurt
Later, you may have other symptoms like:
Coughing or problems breathing
Swelling in your face, neck, arms, and legs
Not feeling hungry or throwing up
Constipation (trouble passing poop)
Feeling weak and tired
Bruising or bleeding more easily
In children, first symptoms may be different and can include:
Weakness and unusual sensations
How can doctors tell if I have a non-Hodgkin lymphoma?
Doctors suspect non-Hodgkin lymphoma when you have enlarged, painless lymph nodes that don't go away after a few weeks.
If doctors suspect non-Hodgkin lymphoma from your symptoms, they will do a:
Biopsy (making a small cut to take out an enlarged lymph node to look at under a microscope)
Before doctors treat your non-Hodgkin lymphoma, they need to see how far it has spread. Doctors use several tests to check the spread of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, such as:
Bone marrow biopsy
How do doctors treat non-Hodgkin lymphomas?
If you have indolent lymphoma that hasn’t spread, you may not need treatment for years. Otherwise, doctors will start treatment right away. The treatment you need depends on what type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma you have and how far it has spread.
Treatment of your non-Hodgkin lymphoma may include:
Monoclonal antibodies into your vein—these use your immune system to fight your cancer
If your lymphoma comes back later after successful treatment (relapses), doctors may try: