the veteran actress Jane Fonda84 years, or recently, the actor Sam Neil (known for his role in Jurassic Park), 75, announced that they have non-Hodgkin’s 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 common cancer. This year, 9,943 people will be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphomaaccording to data from the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology.

The number increases compared to 2022, when the detection of 9,514 patients was expected. 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’s 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 cancerous. Thus, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), it’s a type of cancer. non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma appears in white blood cells (lymphocytes) when these develop abnormally and may start to form tumors throughout the body.

It differs from Hodgkin’s lymphoma (less frequent) in which it does not obey 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 (cancer of the blood) because, although it affects one type of blood cell, it originates from those found in the blood. 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 of the digestive tract.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a category of lymphoma; within it there are many subtypes. Furthermore, 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 fast-growing lymphoma, its the symptoms are severe. Therefore, the treatment of both (slow and fast) is different.

Risk factors for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Most people diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma have no obvious risk factors. However, many of those who have risk factors never manifest them. Some factors that can increase the risk of developing it are:

  • Medicines that suppress the immune system. If you’ve had an organ transplant and take drugs that control your immune system, you may be at increased risk for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • Infections with certain viruses and bacteria. Certain viral and bacterial infections seem 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 your 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 age. It is more common in adults over 60.

What are your symptoms?

As there are many types, the symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are quite non-specific. Also, there are many conditions that can cause similar images, so can be a little tricky 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 it can cause include:

  • Swelling or swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, groin or stomach.
  • Chills.
  • Weight loss for no known reason.
  • Rash or itchy skin.
  • Very tired (feeling exhausted).
  • Feeling full after eating too little food.
  • Chest pain or pressure.
  • Cough or shortness of breath.
  • Severe or frequent infections.
  • Tendency to bruising or bleeding.
  • Fever without other evidence of infection.
  • Profuse sweating at night.

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Treatment and Survival Rate

The management strategy for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma will depend on several factors, such as the specific type of lymphoma and its stage (extent). Thus, depending on the characteristics of the case, the administration of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, stem cell transplantationsurgery and palliative care.

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 greatly depending on the specific type of lymphoma and how advanced it is when starting treatments.