Lymphomas affect the lymphatic system, a network of vessels and nodes that acts as the body's filter. The lymphatic system distributes nutrients to blood and tissue, and prevents bacteria and other foreign "invaders" from entering the bloodstream. There are over 20 types of lymphoma. Hodgkin's disease is one type of lymphoma. All other lymphomas are grouped together and are called non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma may occur in a single lymph node, a group of lymph nodes, or in another organ. This type of cancer can spread to almost any part of the body, including the liver, bone marrow, and spleen.
Doctors can seldom explain why one person gets non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and another does not. It is clear, however, that cancer is not caused by an injury, and is not contagious; no one can "catch" non-Hodgkin's lymphoma from another person.
There are, however, certain risk factors involved:
The likelihood of getting non-Hodgkin's lymphoma increases with age and is more common in men than in women.
The most common symptom of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a painless swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin. Other symptoms may include the following:
When symptoms are present, it is important to see a doctor so that any illness can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible. Do not wait to feel pain; early non-Hodgkin's lymphoma may not cause pain.
Diagnosis of the suspected cancer may be done through a number of tests, like X-rays, CAT scans, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and with Lymphangiograms.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy <alternative-cancer-treatments.asp> are the most common treatments for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, although bone marrow transplantation, biological therapies <alternative-cancer-treatment.asp>, or surgery are sometimes used.