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Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma  

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a deadly cancer which caused 104,407 people to die in America from 2003 through 2007. In recent years, about 20,000 Americans died from this serious form of cancer. Estimated new cases and deaths  from non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the United States in 2012 have been 70,130 and 18,940 successively.  

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma affects the lymphocytes which is a type of white blood cell.  It can occur at any age and are often marked by lymph nodes that are larger than normal, fever, and weight loss. We will explore further details of this disease and discuss the causes, symptoms and treatments typically used. 

The cancer originates in the lymphatic system which is an important part of the immune system.  The lymphatic system helps to fight infections and also acts as a sort of filter to screen out bacteria, viruses and other foreign or damaging substances. 

This type of cancer can begin in many places throughout the body because lymphatic tissue is so widespread. 

As is typical with most cancers, no one is exactly sure what causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma.  But a number of factors can put people at risk for developing the disease. 

It has been found that medications which suppress the immune system can pose a risk in developing the disease since it will lower the ability of your body to fight infection.  A weakened immune system is also a key factor.  Certain kinds of infections such as HIV, hepatitis C, or Epstein-Barr virus can contribute to the risk of developing this disease. 

It is important to note that lymphoma is not contagious meaning that you cannot simply catch it from another person like a cold or the flu.  This disease can occur at times in younger people although it is more commonly associated with older people who may have a weakened immune system and be in poorer health overall.  

Typical symptoms or signs of non-Hodgkins lymphoma can include swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin; sudden and unexpected weight loss; persistent fever; night sweats; chest pain or trouble breathing; abdominal pain; and general and persistent fatigue. 

If your Doctor suspects the presence of this disease, the common ways to diagnose it include a physical exam with focus on examining the lymphatic system; blood tests to measure the white blood cell level; and imaging procedures such as x-rays or CT scan.  A biopsy of the lymph nodes may be advisable to determine the cause of their swelling. 

The type of treatment used for this disease usually depends a lot on the type of non-Hodgkins lymphoma involved.  In addition the stage of the disease and the growth rate play a part.  In addition the age and health of the patient are important factors as well. 

For slow growing types without symptoms, treatment may not be started right away.  As long as the patient is checked on periodically, no treatment may be necessary for years.  But for more aggressive forms, chemotherapy or biological therapy may be implemented.  Other types may require radiation therapy and possibly a stem cell transplant to repair the healthy cells otherwise damaged by the procedure. 

There are new drugs which have been effective and improved treatments are being introduced regularly.  Through these developments, it is hoped that the outlook and survival rate for the sufferers of this disease will continue to improve.