Non Hodgkins Lymphoma Symptoms & Treatment

In 2011, over 530,000 individuals were living with Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In 2014, there was an estimated 70,800 new cases reported and an estimated 18,990 thousand deaths in the United States (seer.org).

Lymphomas are basically cancers that start in the lymphatic system’s white blood cells. Non Hodgkin’s Lymphomas does not start in the WBC’s, instead they are known for starting in the bone marrow, lymph nodes, thymus, and spleen, eventually metastasizing to other parts of the body.

 

Lymphatic System

 

• Lymph Nodes are located in the armpit, pelvis, neck, stomach, and groin. The lymph nodes are connected by lymph ducts and vessels and are responsible for producing, storing (lymphocytes), and carrying lymph (consists of white blood cells and lymphocytes)

• Spleen (produces lymphocytes) and thymus (stores lymphocytes)

• Tonsils are linked to the digestive system and produce lymphocytes

• Bone Marrow produces blood cells

 

T Cells

 

There is three different types of T Cells (lymphocytes) that make up the immune system. T Cells are produced in the bone marrow, but leave and mature in the thymus.

Helper T Cells – are the first to notice abnormal antigens. They produce cytokines, which in turn starts the immune response.

Regulatory T Cells – do the exact opposite by switching off the immune response.
Killer T Cells – attack and destroy antigen carrying cells.

 

B Cells

 

B Cells (lymphocytes) are produced in the bone marrow. Some B Cells will mature into plasma cells (WBC cell), while others will mature into memory cells. The plasma cells will produce antibodies (immunoglobulin) that are effective in fighting off bacteria and viruses.

Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is categorized in three different types B Cells (most common), T Cells, and NK Cell. It is also classified by how fast it metastasized.

• Low-Grade (Indolent) potentially grow and metastasize very slowly

• High-Grade (Aggressive ) potentially grow quickly and metastasize very quickly

 

Stages

 

• Stage I Cancer is located in only one area of the lymphatic system.

• Stage II Cancer is located in two or more lymph nodes above or below the diaphragm

• Stage III Cancer located in lymph nodes below the diaphragm

• Stage IV Cancer located in one or more organs that are not associated with the lymphatic system and potentially in nearby lymph nodes.

 

Signs & Symptoms

 

• Painless swollen lymph nodes (no infection present)

• Fever

• Dyspnea (shortness of breath)

• Fatigue

• Night Sweats

• Weight Loss (unexplained)

• Pain in abdominal area with potential feeling of fullness

 

Risk Factors

 

• Smoking

• Gender (males are at a higher risk)

• Age

• Immunodeficiency

• Race (African Americans are at a higher risk)

• Chemical Exposure (insecticides)

• Radiation

 

Diagnosis

 

• Computed Tomography of the Lymph Nodes

• Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Lymph Nodes

• Bone Marrow Biopsy

• LFT (liver function test) detects inflammation

• eGFR (kidney function test) measures creatinine in the blood

• Immunophenotyping detects the presence or absence of antigens in white blood cells

• Pulmonary Function Test (lung test)

 

Treatment

 

• Chemotherapy/Radiation

• Targeted Drug Therapy

• Stem Cell Transplant

• Immunotherapy (to boost the immune system)

To see more about lung anatomy click here.