A look at non-Hodgkins Lymphoma a diagnosis that could increaseNews — By nygal on November 17, 2009 at 11:41 am
Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, has reportedly begun treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the body’s lymphatic system. This is not his first battle with cancer. Allen was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease — a different type of lymphoma — in the early ’80s. More on that later…
The name non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can refer to one of dozens of types of cancers, depending on the type of white blood cell associated with it. The cancers can be slow-growing or fast-growing, but they usually start with a swelling of a lymph node in the neck, armpits or groin. Here’s more symptoms information from the Oncology Channel, which notes that most swellings are caused by infection, not cancer. (Again, most swellings are not caused by cancer.)
Signs and Symptoms
The most common sign of both Hodgkin’s disease (HD) and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) is a painless swelling in one or more of the lymph nodes of the neck, collarbone region, armpits, or groin. But it is important to remember that most lymph node swelling (especially in children) is caused by an infection, not by lymphoma. Affected lymph nodes usually return to normal size within a few weeks or months after an infection has cleared. Physicians often observe swollen lymph nodes during this time to see if they change in size following antibiotic treatment. However, if a lymph node(s) is larger than one inch in size (> 1 in), and if there are other suspicious symptoms, the physician may choose to perform an immediate biopsy to rule out or confirm a diagnosis of cancer.
The five-year survival rate for the disease has improved dramatically over the years, but it’s far from guaranteed. It hit 69% in 2005, says the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
As for how the disease develops, there’s this from the Lymphoma Research Foundation: “NHL can start in the lymph nodes, in a specialized lymphatic organ such as the spleen, or in lymph tissue found in organs such as the stomach or intestines. Since lymphocytes (white blood cells) can circulate to all parts of the body through the lymphatic vessels and bloodstream, abnormal lymphocytes can reach any part of the body. Thus, NHL can start in or spread to any part of the body. While some NHLs are localized to one area, most are present in other parts of the body by the time the diagnosis is confirmed.”
Each year in the United States, there are 65,980 new cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Of those, 19,500 prove fatal, says the National Cancer Institute.
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