Understanding the most common type of blood cancer
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a blood cancer. It affects white blood cells. These cells play a critical role in the immune system for fighting infections. If you have this cancer, your lymphocytes start to grow and multiply too fast. They become cancer cells and can spread and form tumors in many tissues, causing a variety of symptoms, such as enlarged lymph nodes, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. But there’s more things to know about non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Here are some surprising facts about this disease.
1. There are more than 60 types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
This is not a single disease. The type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma depends on the type of lymphocyte that becomes cancer, how the cancer cell looks like under a microscope, and how fast the cancer cell grows. B-cell lymphocytes are the most likely cells to become non-Hodgkin lymphoma. T-cell lymphocytes can also become cancer. Your doctors will suggest the best treatment method for you when they know which type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma you have.
2. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the most common white blood cell cancer.
Lymphoma is the medical term for white blood cell cancer. Lymphoma is the most common type of blood cancer. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the most common type of lymphoma. The number of people with non-Hodgkin lymphoma has been going up since the 1970s. The risk increases with age, but this disease also occurs in children and young adults. Most people with this cancer are 65 or older.
3. There are many potential DNA changes which can cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Medical experts do not know the exact cause of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. However, they are starting to learn about DNA changes inside lymphocytes which lead to cancer. The DNA changes may cause cancer cells to behave differently, even though they look the same under a microscope. The experts have also known that exposure to certain things and some infections lead to genetic changes. The experts are starting to use genetic testing to recognize these changes. The testing results help doctors diagnose this cancer earlier than in the past.
4. Exposure to pesticides could raise your risk.
A cancer risk factor is something that increases your chances of getting cancer. One risk factor for non-Hodgkin lymphoma may be exposure to chemicals that kill weeds and insects. Contact with these chemicals may cause DNA changes. The contact could come from breathing these chemicals in or having these chemicals pass through your skin. Another risk factor for non-Hodgkin lymphoma is being exposed to radiation. Having a weak immune system or having certain types of viral infections can raise your risk too. A family history of the disease is also a risk factor.
5. There are many ways to treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
There are many types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, so there are many treatment methods. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery are options. But another option is watchful waiting. Some non-Hodgkin lymphomas grow so slowly that treatment might not be necessary. Another option is to strengthen your immune system to help you fight cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy kill normal cells along with cancer cells. For this reason, researchers are developing targeted therapies that kill only cancer cells.
6. Vaccination might be an option in the future.
When you think about a vaccination, most people think of vaccine injection to prevent an infection like the flu. However, vaccines might work for cancer as well—just in a different way. The idea behind cancer vaccines is not to prevent cancer but to help you fight cancer. When you first get non-Hodgkin lymphoma, your immune system may be too slow to fight it. Researchers are working on vaccines that trigger your immune system into action. Some of these vaccines are available now in clinical trials. Researchers are testing the vaccines to see whether the vaccines help you fight an early cancer or help your immune system prevent a cancer from coming back after treatment or not.
7. Some non-Hodgkin lymphomas may improve with antibiotics.
Researchers are trying to find out whether antibiotic drugs work against certain non-Hodgkin lymphomas or not. Antibiotics are medicines that fight bacterial infections. One type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma may be linked to a bacterial infection in your stomach. These bacteria are Helicobacter pylori. These bacteria cause ulcer disease and sometimes lymphoma. Other bacteria linked to lymphoma may cause a type of eye infection. Treating these bacteria with a course of antibiotics might make some types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma improve or even go away.