About Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a blood cancer of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system, which helps fight infections and other diseases. Lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) make up the lymphatic system. There are two main types of lymphocytes: B lymphocytes (B cells) and T lymphocytes (T cells). In non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the lymphocytes begin to multiply uncontrollably, producing abnormal cells that invade lymphoid tissue throughout the body. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can arise from either T lymphocytes or B lymphocytes.

Over 77,000 patients per year are diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the United States.The other type, Hodgkin lymphoma, is less common.

The major sites of lymphoid tissue are:

  • Adenoids and tonsils
  • Bone Marrow
  • Digestive tract, including the stomach and intestines
  • Lymph nodes found throughout the body, including inside the chest, abdomen (belly), and pelvis
  • Lymph vessels
  • Spleen
  • Thymus gland

Types of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

The most common subtypes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma are diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma.

Subtypes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma include:

  • B-cell lymphomas:
    • Burkitt’s lymphoma
    • Cutaneous B cell lymphoma
    • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)/small lymphocytic leukemia (SLL)
    • Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL)
    • Follicular lymphoma
    • Hairy cell leukemia
    • Lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma (Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia)
    • Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL)
    • Marginal zone lymphoma (MZL)
    • Primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma
  • T-cell lymphomas:
    • Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL)
    • Angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma
    • T-cell acute lymphoblastic lymphoma/leukemia (T-ALL)
    • Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma
    • Extranodal natural killer (NK) T-cell lymphoma
    • Enteropathy-associated intestinal T-cell lymphoma (EATL)

Symptoms of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma:

  • Painless swelling of lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, or groin
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Fever without infection
  • Night sweats
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • A feeling of fullness after a small amount of food
  • Severe or frequent infections
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Coughing, trouble breathing, or chest pain

Risk Factors for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Certain people are at greater risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Other common risk factors for non-Hodgkin lymphoma include:

  • Age: Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can occur at any age, but usually affects individuals over the age of 60
  • Family history: White patients are at higher risk for developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Health history: Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is associated with medications that suppress the immune systems, autoimmune disease, weakened immune system, including immunosuppression, Epstein-Barr virus/mononucelosis infection, HIV infection, radiation exposure, and breast implants
  • Sex: Men are more likely to be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma than women

Treating Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma at UT Health Austin

Treatment will require an accurate diagnosis and depend on specific type of lymphoma, location of cancer, and stage of disease. An individual care plan will be developed and tailored to manage symptoms to meet the needs of the individual patient. Decisions about treatment may include combinations of surgery, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, chemotherapy, and consideration of stem cell transplant.

Care Team Approach

At UT Health Austin, we take a multidisciplinary approach to your care. This means you will benefit from the expertise of multiple specialists across a variety of disciplines. Your care team will include medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, oncofertility specialists, onco-psychiatrists, genetic counselors, physical therapists, dietitians, social workers, and more as well as other members of the CaLM Care Team who work together to help you get back to the things in your life that matter most to you. We also collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to identify and utilize new therapies to improve cancer treatment outcomes. We are committed to communicating and coordinating your care with your other healthcare providers to ensure that we are providing you with comprehensive, whole-person care.

Learn More About Your Care Team

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Hematologic Malignancies

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