Lymphoma is a general term for cancers that develop in the lymphatic system (the tissues and organs that produce, store and carry white blood cells).
Hodgkin's disease is one type of lymphoma. It develops in white blood cells, which help the body fight disease.
All other lymphomas are grouped together and are called non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). They develop in other parts of the lymphatic system, including the bone marrow, spleen, thymus and lymph nodes and can then spread to other organs.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is the fifth most common type of cancer (not including skin cancer) in the United States today. Over 66,000 adults and children will be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma this year. Over 95 percent of those cases will be adults around 60 years of age. Men have a slightly higher risk than women, although the numbers of women being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma has recently been increasing. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is more common in whites than African Americans or Asian Americans.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma symptoms may include:
- Painless swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, groin or underarm
- Heavy night sweats
- Weight loss without a known reason
- Severe itchiness
- Reddened patches on the skin
- Nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma has no known cause, and most people diagnosed with it don’t have any risk factors.
Since there are no screening tests to find NHL in its earliest stages, the best approach is to take notice of any unusual symptoms and seek medical attention promptly.
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