Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) refers to a group of closely related cancers that affect the white 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.
Common Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Symptoms
Symptoms may differ from one individual to the next. A lot depends on the location of the tumor in the body. Sometimes, in the early stages, NHL is asymptomatic (without symptoms).
The most common symptom, however, tends to be a painless swelling of the lymph nodes, typically in the neck, above the collar bone, or in the chest area, underarms, groin, legs or ankles. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas can start anywhere in the lymphatic system, or in organs such as the spleen or intestines.
Although some lymphomas are localized, the disease can also spread to remote parts of the body, outside the lymphatic system.
Other symptoms associated with NHL may include fever, night sweats, trouble breathing, coughing, nausea, persistent itching, poor appetite, fatigue and unexplained weight loss.
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.
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 below the age of 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 5-year survival rate for children with early stage NHL is above ninety percent.
The 5-year survival rate for children with advanced NHL is between 75 and 85 percent.