NON-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system.
It affects more than 14,000 Brits every year and is the sixth most common type of cancer in adults the UK.
What is Non-Hodgkin lymphoma?
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer that attacks the sufferer's lymphatic system.
It starts in the white blood cells, which are part of the body's immune system.
More than 12,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma each year.
It can occur at any age but statistically more men than women develop the condition, and the chances of it occurring increase as you get older – most cases are diagnosed in people over 65.
What causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma?
The precise cause of the disease is not known, however those who have a close relative with the condition are a slightly higher risk.
Other risk factors include:
- those with a medical condition that weakens the immune system
- those who take immunosuppressant medications
- those who have been exposed to the common Epstein-Barr virus – which causes glandular fever
What are the signs and symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma?
Signs and symptoms of the disease may include;
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin
- Chest pain, breathing difficulties or coughing
- Persistent fatigue
- Fevers or night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
The only way to confirm a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma is via a biopsy.
What is the treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma?
The main treatments for non-Hodgkin lymphoma are chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
There is also a type of targeted treatment used called monoclonal antibody therapy.
The NHS states that overall, most cases of the disease are considered treatable.
However, there can be a risk of long-term issues developing post-treatment such as infertility and an increased risk of developing another type of cancer.
What is a bone marrow transplant and can it help?
A bone marrow transplant can be offered as part of the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma following high doses of chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
The therapies will have killed as many cancer cells as possible – but also will have destroyed healthy cells too.
Stem cells (early blood cells which develop into blood cells) are contained within the bone marrow, which is a spongy material that fills the bones.
Healthy bone marrow is collected from a compatible donor and introduced intravenously into the patient.
The new bone marrow travels around the body and the stem cells within it begin to produce healthy new blood cells.
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