Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of malignancy that develops in the body’s lymphatic system. The lymphatic system plays an important role in the body’s defense mechanisms. The lymphatic system is a major part of the body’s immune system providing protection against diseases, infection and foreign substances. The following substances make up the lymphatic system:
The Lymph: this is a watery, colorless fluid that that is responsible for transporting lymphocytes (or white blood cells) through the lymph system. Lymphocytes give protection to the body against harmful disease causing agents and fight against the growth of tumors in the body. There are three types of lymphocytes, these include; B lymphocytes, T lymphocytes, and Natural Killer cells.
B lymphocytes also referred to as B cells produce protein antibodies that help in the fight against infectious materials that make their way into the body. It has been shown that most types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma begin in B lymphocytes. T lymphocytes (T cells) kill the foreign substances directly and in an associated manner help the antibodies produced by B lymphocytes to fight infection. Natural killer cells also called NK cells help in the defense against viruses and cancer cells.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can develop from any of the lymphocyte cells: in B lymphocytes, T lymphocytes, or natural killer cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can metastasize i.e. it grows and spreads in different ways which could be either indolent or aggressive. The growth and pattern of spread seen in Indolent are slow and usually, presents with few signs and symptoms. Aggressive lymphoma shows a quick pattern of growth and spreads giving signs and symptoms that can be severe. The treatments process for both indolent and aggressive lymphoma are different.
Causes: Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has come under a lot of research and studies, the major cause of the disease is yet to be known. The lymphocytes divide and grow rapidly, and causes enlargement and swelling of the lymph nodes. Lymphocytes undergo a life cycle, but in no-Hodgkin’s lymphoma the cells grow and do not die.
Risk factors: The following are risk factors that might increase a person’s chances of developing the disease. There are many types of lymphomas, but some of this factors have been linked to the disease.
Age: This is a critical risk factor in the development of the disease, most cases of the disease have been reported for individuals between the ages of 60 years and above. Some types of lymphoma are more commonly diagnosed in younger people.
Sex: non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is more common in men, but certain types are more in women. The reason behind such occurrence is not known.
The exposure to the use of certain drugs and chemicals.
Body weight and diet.
The exposure to radiation.
Exposure to infection and a weakened immune system.
Prevention: There is absolutely no sure way to prevent non-Hodgkin lymphoma. There is no risk factor associated with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that can be easily changed, so there is no way to control these lymphomas. But there are several things you can do that might lower your exposure to possibly be affected by the disease, such as limiting the risk of certain infections and doing what you can to keep a healthy immune system.