Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, or NHL, develops when cancerous cells crowd out healthy ones in the tissues and organs that make up the immune system, your bodys line of defense. To fight infection, your lymph system extends throughout most of your body, which is why lymphoma can spread easily. If you notice swollen lymph nodes, unexplained weight loss and extreme fatigue, visit your doctor. Children should also be monitored for breathing problems, a symptom of Childhood non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Although no one knows the cause of this cancer, if youre a male or Caucasian, have HIV/AIDS or intake a diet high in fats, you have a higher chance of developing adult non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Early detection and treatment can lead to success against this cancer.

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    Hodgkin's lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are not the same disease, although they are both cancers of the lymphatic system. Hodgkin's lymphoma is identified by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma has no such cells. Treatments for the two diseases can vary, so it's important that your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

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    With an unknown cause, and the disease affecting all ages, it is not known how to prevent non-Hodgkin lymphoma. With suspected but unconfirmed risk factors tied to weed killers and insecticides, it is probably a good idea to limit exposure to those kinds of products. This particularly applies to people over 60, whom non-Hodgkin lymphoma most often affects. Studies are also looking into obesity as a possible risk factor, and in light of that possible link leading a healthier lifestyle may help prevent the disease.

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    Although more common in adults, children can develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In fact, there is a sub-type of B-cell non-Hodgkin called Burkitt's lymphoma that most commonly develops in children and young adults. Children often differ in symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma as well.

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    Unlike adults, children with non-Hodgkin lymphoma often display shortness of breath and anemia-like symptoms first. Children can also display the symptoms more typical of adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma, such as painless swelling of the lymph nodes, fevers of unknown origin, and night sweats. The anemia-like symptoms include weakness, rashes, and bruises. Because the disease is usually more aggressive in children, it can spread quickly into bone marrow, the blood, and the nervous system, the latter causing increased sensitivity to touch.

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    The keys to successful daily management are learning how to cope with stress and staying realistic about goals. A diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma can be psychologically devastating; making sure you have a good support network of friends, family, and even fellow cancer survivors can help tremendously. Exercise can help as well, and so can continuing on with your day job, but be realistic about how much energy you have to spare and make sure you're getting plenty of rest. Lastly, eating regular, healthy meals is good for your energy levels and your immune system; try to maintain a healthy eating schedule even when you're dealing with nausea caused by the disease or by chemotherapy.

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    Non-Hodgkin lymphoma symptoms generally begin with a painless swelling of the affected lymphatic area (the neck, armpit, and groin). Alternately, a cough or shortness of breath caused by swollen lymph nodes in the chest pressing on the lungs may be the first symptom felt. If the disease is particularly advanced, a fever of unknown origin may appear as a symptom. Night sweats, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue are also symptoms associated with certain types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

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    Consult your doctor immediately if you have any worrying symptoms that suggest non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The disease is a form of cancer and almost always requires treatment or at least monitoring. The good news is that for indolent forms of the disease, treatment is often ultimately not needed immediately. However, it is up to your doctor and other medical specialists to make the call, and even with an indolent form you will still require long-term monitoring for years to come to make sure the disease doesn't turn aggressive.

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    Understand that a diagnosis means life has changed for everyone; be supportive, and encourage seeking out support networks. Oftentimes, simply offering to cook meals, make grocery runs, or help out with other mundane chores can be tremendously helpful. Particularly when they are going through chemotherapy, people with lymphoma will require lots of rest; help facilitate that. Do what you can to be supportive, and encourage them to talk to others who might have more direct experience with what they're going through, such as doctors, nurses, councilors, clergy, or cancer survivor support groups.

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    The key difference for pregnant women diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma is choice of treatment. Treatment options are the same as for non-pregnant adults and depend on the stage and type of the lymphoma. For pregnant women, the trimester of the pregnancy must also be considered, along with the wishes of the patient. For example, choosing to delay treatment for an aggressive type of lymphoma in the first trimester may jeopardize the mother's health, as the disease may have spread too far by the time the child is born.

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    White males over the age of 60 are at greatest risk for developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The average age of diagnosis is 67, with only about two percent of diagnoses for people under the age of 20 and 75 percent of cases being diagnosed among those aged 55 or older. Among ethnic groups, non-Hodgkin lymphoma is most common among Caucasians, and least common among American Indians.