Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) is a type of cancer that generally develops in the lymph nodes and lymphatic tissue found in organs such as the stomach, intestines or skin. In some cases, NHL involves bone marrow and blood. NHL isn’t just one disease. It’s a diverse group of blood cancers that all arise from lymphocytes (white blood cells that are part of the immune system). NHL has many different subtypes which are either indolent (slow growing) or aggressive (fast growing).
A cell undergoes a change (mutation) in a lymph node or in some other lymphatic structure. It can start in one of three major types of lymphocytes:
- B lymphocytes (B cells), which produce antibodies to help combat infections
- T lymphocytes (T cells), which have several functions, including helping B lymphocytes make antibodies
- Natural killer (NK) cells, which attack virus-infected cells or tumor cells
About 85-90 percent of NHL cases start in the B cells.
Treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma includes chemotherapy, radiation, plasmapheresis and, in some cases, watchful waiting. Stem cell transplantation is also a treatment option, as well as Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, one of the most exciting and promising cancer treatment breakthroughs in recent years.
Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms depend on the area of the body is affected by the cancer and how fast it is growing. Symptoms may include:
- Painless swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, groin, or stomach
- Fever for no known reason
- Drenching night sweats
- Feeling very tired
- Weight loss for no known reason
- Skin rash or itchy skin
- Pain in the chest, abdomen or bones for no known reason
Coughing or shortness of breath may occur if the cancer affects the thymus gland or lymph nodes in the chest, which may put pressure on the windpipe (trachea) or other airways. Some patients may have abdominal pain or swelling, which may lead to a loss of appetite, constipation, nausea, and vomiting. If the cancer affects cells in the brain, the person may have a headache, concentration problems, personality changes, or seizures.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, contact your doctor.
Your OHC doctor will help you determine the best care plan for you. Standard treatments for patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma include:
- Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing.
- Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells.
- Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is one of the most exciting and promising cancer treatment breakthroughs in recent years. OHC is the first in Greater Cincinnati – and among the very few independent oncology groups in the U.S. – to bring this leading-edge therapy to our region for adults with aggressive blood cancers.
CAR-T Therapy is a type of immunotherapy that stimulates the body’s immune system to fight cancer.
- Thousands of T-cells are extracted from the patient and reengineered in a lab to produce special receptors on their surface that fight and kill cancer cells.
- The reengineered cells are multiplied until there are millions and then infused back into the patient.
- The cells continue to then multiply on their own in the patient’s body. These cells will recognize and kill cancer cells, and help guard against recurrence.
- A blood and marrow stem cell transplant is a procedure that replaces a person’s damaged stem cells with healthy ones. They are delivered into the body like a blood transfusion and eventually settle in the marrow, and begin growing and making healthy blood cells. In some cases, very high doses of chemotherapy, and sometimes radiation, are used to destroy difficult cancers and blood disorders.
- Targeted therapy uses drugs or other substances to attack only specific cancer cells.
- Plasmapheresis removes extra plasma and antibody proteins from the blood.
- Watchful waiting lets a doctor monitor a patient’s condition without giving any treatment until symptoms appear or change.