Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Cancer is a very scary word. Lymphoma doesn't have to be.
Don't let the legendary masterpiece at the left scare you. It is just symbolic of how we all feel.
Most of us were when we were first diagnosed with NHL. Cancer is one heck of a scary word for all of us. Here is where we will try to give you some of the most commonly sought information for new patients. For those more experienced patients looking for detailed research information you should check out our links page, and also the ASH abstracts in our download section.
Of the topics to your left there are three that may appear to be surprisingly similar; stages, grades, and classification. A quick definition of each may help.
Classification: There are over 27 different types of NHL, and while the treatment is often similar, in many cases the treatment is very unique for some types. This large variation in types of NHL make it very difficult to diagnose in some cases. That wise old saying of "get a second opinion" takes on a whole new meaning. Your first step should be to get a second opinion from an experienced haematopathologist. Before you can begin any treatment plan you need to be confident of "what" you have first. It is the pathologists job to look at that biopsy specimen and determine what it is. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, then you want to have two or more opinions from expert haematologists or oncologists with a lot of experience in treating NHL.
Stage: This is a description of how far the NHL has spread. NHL as you are likely learning is very different from most other cancers. Contrary to what you might be thinking, the stage is far less important for the low grade lymphomas than it is for most other cancers. Even with the aggressive lymphomas, the stage is only of moderate importance to the overall prognosis.
Grade: This category has two meanings. For lymphoma in general the grade means how fast is it growing. Low-Intermediate-High. Or in more common usage Indolent-Aggressive. (Intermediate is usually treated as aggressive). The second meaning of grade is for follicular lymphoma. It is a way of identifying just how slowly or quickly it can be expected to grow. Small cells grow very slowly. Large cells grow somewhat faster, therefore the fewer large cells you have the better your long term survival prospects. On the Grades page you can read more details about it, and see some slides showing what it looks like.
Causes: The causes of lymphoma are not clearly understood. Certain types of herbicides and pesticides are strongly believed to be a risk factor. Several viral infections are implicated in specific types of NHL as well, such as Epstein Barr Virus (Mononulceosis), and HTLV-1 virus (human T-cell lymphotrophic virus type I), Helicobacter pylori, and others.
Click on the link below if you would like to see some biopsy slides of the various forms of NHL and normal lymph nodes/cells. While these slides are intended for medical professionals, you will find them quite fascinating to look at, and you may even begin to be understand them if you look at various different ones.
The links on the left will take you to a variety of subjects. Of course if there is something you think is missing or if you have comments or questions please don't hesitate to ask a question
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