Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) is an umbrella term used to refer to all types of lymphoma except Hodgkin’s lymphomas. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can occur due to multiple reasons, and it mainly affects the immune system. The lymphocytes are destroyed due to this disease and it can be fatal.
Lymphocytes are a type of WBC (white blood cells) that play a crucial role in the human body. They act as the protectors of the body by recognizing the antigens and killing them effectively. However, this disease destroys these cells, thereby making the body more prone to viruses and pathogens.
Researchers have found that non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) is associated with several risk factors. But the causes of most lymphomas including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, are still unknown. However, there are a few fundamental risk factors known for most lymphomas. In this case, the significant causes of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are:
1. Gene mutations
DNA carries the blueprint of the organization of the body. A change or alteration in the nucleotide sequence of the genome of an organism results in mutations. A gene mutation can occur for a lot of reasons like radiation, pollution, etc.
A change in the gene sequence can alter the nature of the cells and turn them into tumor cells. These tumor cells can be benign or malignant depending on the nature of cell division. If the cells become malignant, then they transform into cancerous cells and affect all the neighboring cells.
Many people can inherit such gene mutations or develop them over a while. Generally, genes related to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma develop during the lifetime. This can happen due to overexposure to harmful radiation, infections, or cancer-causing agents.
2. Changes in the immune system
People with autoimmune diseases and chronic infections may develop this disease. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma starts by affecting the immune system. It weakens the entire functioning of the body and helps the cancer cells to spread fast. This disease affects the B-cells and T-cells of the immune system. Thus, this disease mainly affects the lymphatic system and the organs outside this system too.
Accurate and early diagnosis can help doctors determine the exact causes of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Physical tests like urine tests, blood tests, etc. can help to check the condition and size of the lymphatic system. These tests can also determine the status of the liver and spleen. One can opt for CT scans, X-rays, MRIs, PET scans, etc. for the identification of the stage and nature of cancer in the body.
A bone marrow biopsy can assist the doctor in assessing the spread of the disease.
Some of the primary symptoms of this condition include:
- Swelling and abdominal pain
- Pain in the chest area
- Prolonged coughing
- Problems in breathing
- Painless, swollen lymph nodes in the armpits, neck, or groin
- Constant fatigue
- Night sweats
- Drastic weight loss
If you notice any of these symptoms, then it is better to consult a doctor immediately. This is because treating this condition would be easy if the presence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is determined quickly. Thus, early intervention would help the person to eradicate cancer properly.