Lymphoma Non Hodgkins

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) refers to a group of closely related cancers that affect the white blood cells of the lymphatic system.

All types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are divided into two major groups: the B-cell lymphomas that originate from abnormal B-lymphocytes, and the T-cell lymphomas that originate from abnormal T-lymphocytes. The condition presents most commonly as a malignant tumor of the lymph nodes, but the cancer may also affect other organs such as the central nervous system or skin.

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Statistics

The statistics are both interesting and surprising:

  • The number of people diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has nearly doubled since the early 1970s.
  • Today, around four percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States are NHL.
  • The lifetime risk of developing this cancer is 2.8 percent.
  • In the year 2000, an estimated 54,900 new cases of NHL were diagnosed in the US and in the same year around 26,100 patients died of the disease.
  • Approximately 53,900 new cases of NHL were diagnosed in the US in 2002.
  • More than nine in ten cases of NHL cancer occur in adults.
  • The likelihood of developing the disease increases with age, peaking at around 80 to 85 years of age, with a median diagnosis age of 65.
  • Three percent of new cases are diagnosed in children under sixteen, accounting for approximately four percent of all childhood cancers.
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is nearly three times more common in boys than in girls.
  • NHL is rare in children under the age of five.
  • Childhood NHL tends to peak between the ages of seven and eleven.
  • The five-year survival rate for children with early stage NHL is above ninety percent.

Causes of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

The exact causes of the disease are unknown. Several factors that may increase the risk of developing the disease have been identified, however, including:

  • age: The likelihood of developing it increases with age.
  • gender: NHL is more common in men/boys than women/girls.
  • genetics: Recent research has identified a possible genetic link, particularly in individuals born with a deficient immune system.
  • defective immune system: People with reduced immunity due to HIV or AIDs, are at greater risk.
  • Epstein-Barr virus: Infection with the Epstein-Barr virus can significantly increase an individual’s chance of developing this cancer, particularly, Burkitt’s type lymphoma.
  • drugs: Previous treatment with certain anti-spasmodic and immunosuppressive drugs may increase the risk.
  • chemotherapy: Studies have shown that individuals treated with certain chemotherapy drugs may be at increased risk of developing NHL, with the likelihood peaking at around five to ten years following the initial treatment.
  • radiation: Previous exposure to nuclear radiation or radiation treatment for other cancers may slightly increase the likelihood of developing NHL in later years.
  • organ transplants: Organ transplant recipients have been shown to be at greater risk.
  • environmental exposure: Frequent exposure to carcinogens in the workplace, including pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, wood and petrochemicals, may increase susceptibility.

According to Merck