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Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Glossary

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Glossary

Learn the definitions of common medical terms used regarding this disease.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, you may feel overwhelmed with some of the terminology stated by physicians, as well as in medical literature. Here are the basic meanings of scientific language used when discussing this common type of cancer.

Allogeneic stem cell transplantation
A procedure where the patient receives formative (or developing) blood cells from a healthy individual (a donor) who has a similar genetic makeup to replace damaged cells. This person could be either a relative or non-relative.

Antibodies
Proteins produced in the immune system that are designed to protect the body from antigens (a foreign substance, such as a virus or bacteria, that may cause illness).

Apoptosis
A normal process in which the body rids itself of abnormal cells. Also referred to as a “cell death.”

Autologous stem cell transplantation
A procedure where the patient has their formative (or developing) blood cells collected after diagnosis, stored during treatments and then given back to them to replace damaged cells.

B cells
White blood cells that make antibodies in the immune system that are derived from stem cells in the bone marrow.

Chemotherapy
A category of medicines designed to treat cancer by destroying cancer cells throughout the body. Also referred to as chemo.

Clinical trial
Medical research studies that evaluate the effects of a medical product, behavior or procedure.

First-line treatment
The most accepted type of therapy used to treat a disease. Also referred to as induction therapy, primary therapy and primary treatment.

Hodgkin lymphoma
A cancer that originates in the white blood cells (usually in the B cells) within the immune system. Certain abnormal cells named Reed-Sternberg cells will be present.

Hyper-CVAD
An acronym for a common type of chemotherapy used to treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), as well as other types of cancer. It is a combination of four drugs. The total daily dose is divided into smaller, more frequent doses in order to minimize potential side effects. This treatment schedule is known as hyperfractionation.

Lymphoma
The most common form of blood cancer located in the lymphatic system—the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus gland and bone marrow.

Lymphocytes
A type of white blood cells found in the immune system. The two main types of lymphocytes are B cells and T cells. A third type is NK cells.

Mantle cell lymphoma
A rare and aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) that may affect the lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow and blood, as well as the gastrointestinal tract.

Metastasis
Cancer cells that have spread from their original place of origin by traveling through the blood or lymph system.

Minimal residual disease (MRD)
Minimal traces of cancerous (lymphoma) cells found after a patient receives treatment.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
A cancer that originates in the white blood cells (usually in the B cells) within the immune system. Abnormal cells named Reed-Sternberg cells are not present.

Radiation therapy
A type of high-energy (using x-rays and gamma rays, for example) designed to shrink and destroy cancer cells.

Relapse
A disease returns after a patient’s condition has improved.

Second-line treatment
A type of treatment that is used when first-line treatments are not effective or stop being effective.

T cells
White blood cells that are produced in the immune system in order to help the body fight off infections and possibly cancer.

Targeted therapy
Medicines or substances used to directly destroy cancer cells without harming healthy cells. It is considered a type of chemotherapy, yet will have different side effects than standard chemotherapy.

White blood cells
The type of blood cells found in the blood and lymph tissues that are produced from bone marrow and help the body fight off infections and other diseases.

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