16 Interesting Facts About Lymphoma And Its Causes, Symptoms, Statistics

Here are the top interesting facts about lymphoma:

#1 It is a general term for a group of cancers that originate in the lymph system (the organs and tissues which produce, store, and transport white blood cells).


#2 The two main types are:

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) – it spreads through the lymphatic system in a non-orderly manner;
  • Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) – it spreads in an orderly manner from one group of lymph nodes to another.

#3 The main difference between NHL and HL is the presence of Reed-Sternberg cell, a type of abnormal cell. This type of cell is only present in HL.


#4 It can occur at any age, including childhood. More exactly, NHL is more likely to occur in seniors and HL is most frequent in older people 55 years of age and older and in young adults 16-34 years of age.

#5 Accounting for approximately 4 percent of all cancers, NHL is one of the most frequent types of cancer in the US. Also, more than 32,160 females and 40,080 males will be diagnosed with NHL.

#6 In the United Kingdom, there are about 14,000 new patients with NHL. Worldwide, the incidence of this condition has been increasing at a rate of 4 percent with about 125,000 people living with it.


#7 Common symptoms may include:

  • persistent fatigue;
  • swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, groin, or armpits;
  • shortness of breath;
  • unexplained weight loss;
  • fever;
  • loss of appetite;
  • headaches;
  • night sweats;
  • lack of energy;
  • temperature swings;
  • enlarged tonsils;
  • itch all over the body;
  • problems breathing.


#8 The precise causes of this type of cancer still remain unknown (it typically starts when the human body produces too many abnormal lymphocytes), but some factors may increase the risk of developing it, including:

  • infection with Epstein-Barr virus, one of 8 known human herpes virus types in the herpes family. In addition, Epstein-Barr virus may cause mononucleosis;
  • people who have been infected with human T-cell leukemia/lymphoma or hepatitis C;
  • a few autoimmune disorders can increase the risk of developing this type of cancer, like – Sjogren’s syndrome (a systemic chronic inflammatory condition described by lymphocytic infiltrates in exocrine organs), rheumatoid arthritis, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (the most frequent type of inflammation of the thyroid gland). Autoimmune diseases usually develop when the immune system attacks body tissue by mistake.
  • there is a possible connection between using hair dyes and NHL. For instance, the risk of this type of cancer is higher among people who used earlier formulations of both nonpermanent and permanent dyes than among people who had not used dyes, according to a US study.
  • individuals who work with herbicides are at increased risk of this disease. For example,  people exposed to glyphosate (a non-selective herbicide) had 100 percent increased the risk of developing NHL, according to a 2014 study. More importantly, pesticides and herbicides are a potential threat to the general population who may consume them regularly through the food supply.
  • according to data, individuals with depressed immune function, like – people taking medications that suppress the immune system have an increased risk of HL. Moreover, an individual with HIV is approximately 70 times more likely to develop NHL than a person without HIV.
  • an elevated risk of developing NHL has been associated with a family history;
  • smoking (with about 40 percent);
  • individuals treated with radiation therapy have an increased risk of developing NHL later in life;
  • a diet high in meats, because meat cooked at high temperatures is a source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and carcinogenic heterocyclic amines.


#9 In reaching a diagnosis of this type of cancer, healthcare professionals may do the following:

  • do a biopsy by removing a small amount of tissue from the suspected area;
  • do blood tests to check liver and kidney functioning;
  • do a physical examination to detect an enlarged lymph node;
  • take the patient’s medical history.


#10 HL is treatable, particularly in its early stages. For instance, the 5-year survival rate is 86%.

#11 If treatment is required, it can involve:

  • surgery – it can be used to remove the spleen if cancer has spread;
  • steroids – these may be injected to treat this serious condition;
  • stem-cell transplantation – this form of treatment can restore damaged bone marrow
  • radiation therapy – it is used to focus on small areas of cancer;
  • radioimmunotherapy – it delivers high-powered radioactive doses directly into the cancerous T-cells and B-cells;
  • chemotherapy – it is used to kill cancer cells, however, it is an aggressive drug treatment;
  • antibody therapy – during this treatment, synthetic antibodies are inserted into the bloodstream;
  • biologic therapy – it stimulates the immune system to attack the cancer cells.

#12 About 40 percent of people with this condition were cancer-free 15 months after treatment with engineered immune cells, according to a 2017 study which was issued in the New England Journal of Medicine.

#13 Individuals who had boosted their physical exercise level after being diagnosed with this type of cancer were less likely to have died in a 3-year span than were people who hadn’t increased their physical activity level, as per a recent study that was presented at the American Society of Hematology.

#14 In 2017, the FDA approved two drugs that considerably expanded the treatment options for patients with this cancer. The first is the enzyme inhibitor Copanlisib (Aliqopa), a medicine used to treat patients (who have received at least 2 prior systemic therapies) with relapsed follicular lymphoma, a type of slow-growing NHL.

#15 The second is pembrolizumab, an immunotherapy drug that can be used to treat refractory Hodgkin lymphoma in adults and children. This medicine works by blocking a protective mechanism of cancer cells. This allows the immune system to destroy those cancer cells.


#16 There is no definitive way to prevent this type of cancer. However, you considerably reduce your risk by avoiding smoking tobacco (and second-hand smoking), be physically active, reduce your stress levels, have healthy sleeping patterns as well as taking precautions to avoid becoming infected with HIV.

Images credit – Shutterstock & Getty

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