Cancer that starts in the lymphatic system
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph nodes – glands that help the body fight infection. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is more common in adults aged 65 and older, and is more common than Hodgkin lymphoma.
There are many different types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The two main sub-types are B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas (85% of cases) and T-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas (15% of cases). NK-cell lymphomas are the rarest sub-type. Further characterization is made based on a biopsy, and this is very important because the treatment depends on the sub-type.
Some non-Hodgkin lymphomas grow very rapidly (aggressive), requiring immediate treatment. Others are slow growing (indolent) and do not necessarily require immediate treatment; patients can often be observed over time.
Treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma can include:
- Active surveillance, also known as observation
- Chemotherapy and antibody therapy
- Radiation therapy
- Bone marrow transplantation (also known as stem cell transplantation)
- CAR-T cell therapy, where a patient’s immune system is engineered to attack the cancer cells
- Our team of specialists at Penn State Cancer Institute will discuss standard and experimental options with you and your family.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma - also called non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma - is a cancer of the lymph nodes, glands that help the body fight infection.
Symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma include:
- Painless swollen lymph nodes (glands) in the neck, armpit, groin or under the chin
- Drenching night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
A biopsy of the affected lymph nodes will determine if you have the disease. This is a minor procedure done by a surgeon that causes little discomfort or risk to the patient. The tissue is examined under a microscope and tested to determine which type of cells are growing abnormally.
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