Your body's lymphatic system is part of your immune system, which protects you against infection and disease. The lymphatic system includes your spleen, thymus, lymph nodes and lymph channels, as well as your tonsils and adenoids.
WHAT IS NON-HODGKIN'S LYMPHOMA?
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is cancer that originates in your lymphatic system, the disease-fighting network spread throughout your body. In non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, tumors develop from lymphocytes — a type of white blood cell.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is more common than the other general type of lymphoma — Hodgkin lymphoma. Many different subtypes of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma exist. Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma are among the most common subtypes.
Advances in diagnosis and treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma have helped improve the prognosis for people with this disease.
Signs and symptoms of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma may include:
Painless, swollen lymph nodes in your neck, armpits or groin
Abdominal pain or swelling
Chest pain, coughing or trouble breathing
Unexplained weight loss
In most cases, doctors don't know what causes non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In some cases, it's due to a weakened immune system. But it begins when your body produces too many abnormal lymphocytes — a type of white blood cell.
Normally, lymphocytes go through a predictable life cycle. Old lymphocytes die, and your body creates new ones to replace them. In non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, your lymphocytes don't die, but continue to grow and divide. This oversupply of lymphocytes crowds into your lymph nodes, causing them to swell.
Where non-Hodgkin's lymphoma occurs:
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma generally involves the presence of cancerous lymphocytes in your lymph nodes. But the disease can also spread to other parts of your lymphatic system. These include the lymphatic vessels, tonsils, adenoids, spleen, thymus and bone marrow. Occasionally, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma involves organs outside of your lymphatic system.