Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer arising from lymphocytes, a type of white blood cells. It is so called because of its distinction from Hodgkin's disease, a particular subtype of lymphoma. It is in fact an overarching term of many different forms of lymphoma, each with individual characteristics. more...
Lymphomas may develop in any organ. Most cases start with infiltration of lymph nodes (nodal), but specific subtypes may be restricted to the skin, brain, spleen or other organs (extranodal).
Diagnosis of lymphoma requires biopsy of involved tissue. Treatment of low-grade lymphoma may be supportive, while high-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma is typically treated with chemotherapy and often with radiation therapy.
The most common symptom of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a painless swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm (axilla), or groin.
Other symptoms may include the following:
- Unexplained fever
- Night sweats
- Constant fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss and anorexia (poor appetite)
- Itchy skin (pruritus)
- Reddened patches on the skin
When symptoms like these occur, they are not sure signs of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. They may also be caused by other, less serious conditions, such as the flu or other infections. Only a doctor can make a diagnosis. 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.
If non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is suspected, the doctor asks about the person's medical history and performs a physical exam. The exam includes feeling to see if the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin are enlarged. In addition to checking general signs of health, the doctor may perform blood tests.
The doctor may also order tests that produce pictures of the inside of the body. These may include:
- X-rays: Pictures of areas inside the body created by high-energy radiation.
- CT scan (computed tomography scan, also known as a "CAT scan"): A series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are created by a computer linked to an x-ray machine.
- PET scan (positron emission tomography scan): This is an imaging test that detects uptake of a a radioactive tracer by the tumor. More often, the PET scan can be combined with the CT scan.
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): Detailed pictures of areas inside the body produced with a powerful magnet linked to a computer.
- Lymphangiogram: Pictures of the lymphatic system taken with x-rays after a special dye is injected to outline the lymph nodes and vessels. This test is not used as often because of the adoption of CT scan and the PET scan technologies
A biopsy is needed to make a diagnosis. A surgeon removes a sample of tissue so that a pathologist can examine it under a microscope to check for cancer cells. A biopsy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is usually taken from lymph nodes that are enlarged, but other tissues may be sampled as well. Rarely, an operation called a laparotomy may be performed. During this operation, a surgeon cuts into the abdomen and removes samples of tissue to be checked under a microscope.
Read more at Wikipedia.org