The veteran actress Jane Fonda84 years old, or recently, the actor Sam Neil (known for his role in Jurassic Park), 75, have announced that they have non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It is a type of cancer that affects the blood; a deadly oncological disease that can become very aggressive and is also very common. In Spain it is the sixth most frequent cancer. This year 9,943 people will be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphomasaccording to figures from the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology.
The number increases compared to 2022, when it was predicted that 9,514 patients would be detected. Its prevalence among men (5,491 cases) is higher than among women (4,452). The diagnosis of lymphoma is made through a series of tests that may include: blood tests, tissue biopsies, tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, treatment will depend on the type and severity of the cancer.
What is non-Hodgkin lymphoma?
Cancer, whatever its form, consists of the uncontrolled reproduction of a mass of cells. Virtually any cell in the body can, under the right conditions, begin to replicate uncontrollably and become a cancer. Thus, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), it’s a type of cancer. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma appears on white blood cells (lymphocytes), when these develop abnormally and can begin to form tumors throughout the body.
It differs from Hodgkin lymphoma (less frequent) in which it does not comply with the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells (very large white blood cells and often multinucleated or with a bilobed nucleus). It is also different from leukemia (blood cancer) because while it affects one type of blood cells, it originates from those found in the lymphatic system although can then travel through the blood.
The lymphatic system is part of the immune system It protects the body against infections and diseases. By affecting the immune system, usually appears in lymph nodes or other lymphatic tissue, such as the spleenbone marrow, thymus, adenoids or tonsils, and various points in the digestive tract.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a category of lymphoma; within it there are many subtypes. In addition, it spreads at different speeds: its growth can be slow (low malignancy), but it can also very fast, aggressive and of great malignancy. Indolent lymphoma tends to progress and spread slowly; It has few signs and symptoms. In the case of rapidly growing lymphoma, its symptoms are severe. Therefore, the treatment of both (slow and fast) is different.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma risk factors
Most people who are diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma have no obvious risk factors. However, many of those who do have risk factors never manifest them. Some factors that can increase the risk of development are:
- Medications that suppress the immune system. If you’ve had an organ transplant and take medications that control your immune system, you may be at increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
- Infections with certain viruses and bacteria. Certain viral and bacterial infections appear to increase the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Viruses associated with this type of cancer include HIV and Epstein-Barr infection. One of the bacteria associated with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is Helicobacter pylori, which causes ulcers.
- Chemical substances. Certain chemicals, such as those used to kill bugs and weeds, can increase the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. More research is needed to understand the possible relationship between pesticides and the development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
- Advanced age. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can appear at any age, but the risk increases as you get older. It is more common in adults older than 60 years.
What are your symptoms?
Since there are many types, the symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma are quite non-specific. In addition, there are many conditions that can cause similar pictures, so it can be somewhat complicated to diagnose. To identify the type of lymphoma we are dealing with, it is necessary to analyze a biopsy of the affected tissue.
In any case, the signs that it can cause include:
- Swelling or swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, groin, or stomach.
- Shaking chills.
- Weight loss for no known reason.
- Rash or itchy skin.
- Very tired (feeling exhausted).
- Feeling full after eating little food.
- Pain or pressure in the chest.
- Cough or shortness of breath.
- Serious or frequent infections.
- Tendency to bruise or bleed.
- Fever without other evidence of infection.
- Profuse sweating at night.
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment and Survival Rate
The strategy for addressing non-Hodgkin lymphoma will depend on several factors, such as the particular type of lymphoma and its stage (extent). Thus, depending on the characteristics of the case, you can go through the administration of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, stem cell transplantsurgery and palliative treatments.
The patient’s prognosis is generally good. (the 5-year survival rate is 73.8% for those under 75 and 43.5% for those over 75), although it should be borne in mind that it can vary widely depending on the specific type of lymphoma and depending on how advanced it is at the time of starting the treatments.