When you hear the diagnosis of a Lymphoma – either Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma or Hodgkins Lymphoma you may never have heard of it before – this is not unusual with Lymphomas!
It is very natural to feel fear, anxiety, despair and even hopelessness. The more you know about something, the less afraid and anxious you are likely to be. Knowledge = Power. So what is Non-Hodgkins compared to Hodgkins Lymphoma? Well I’ll try to explain here for you….
Non-Hodgkins Lymphomas are a type of cancer of the lymphatic system. There are two main types of Lymphoma – these are Hodgkins Lymphoma (named after Dr Hodgkin, who first described it). The other is called Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. There are about 35 different types of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma around now – some more common than others.
There is only one way to tell the difference between Hodgkins and Non-Hodgkins Lymphomas. This can be seen when the cells are looked at under a microscope. Often the cells need to be stained to show their structures. Usually the cells will also be tested for the presence of particular proteins – this is known as immunohistochemistry.
In most cases of Hodgkins Lymphoma, a particular cell known as the Reed-Sternberg cell is found in the biopsies. This cell is not usually found in other Lymphomas, so they are called Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. This may not seem a very big difference, but it is important because the treatment for Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkins Lymphomas can be very different.
There are over 35 different types of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, each with its own characteristics and behaviour. Non-Hodgkins Lymphomas, like other cancers, are diseases of the body’s cells. Cells in different parts of the body may work in different ways but they all repair and reproduce themselves in the same way. Normally, this division of cells takes place in an orderly and controlled manner. However, if, for some reason, the process gets out of control the cells will continue to multiply. There will then be too many immature white blood cells in the blood or bone marrow. A lump or tumour may also develop in one or more groups of lymph nodes.
Lymphocytes move around the body as part of their role in defending against infection, and so Lymphoma cells can sometimes travel through the lymphatic system to lymph nodes in other parts of the body. The Lymphoma cells can also travel in the bloodstream, which may carry them to other organs. When the cells reach a new area they may go on dividing and form a new tumour.
Obviously with over 35 variations of Lymphoma I can’t list them all, but here are the most common ones.
All Lymphomas have a particular appearance when looked at under the microscope and contain certain proteins on the cell surface. This also means that they grow at different rates and also need different treatments hence so many variations of chemotherapy!
An Odd One! (yes my type of Lymphoma…)
Primary Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma of bone (PLB) is a rare type of cancer starting in the bone, it accounts for about 1-3% of all primary bone tumours.
Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (NHL) usually starts in the lymph nodes and lymph glands (part of the immune system). PLB, however, starts in the bone. This is different from NHL which starts in the lymph notes and then spreads to the bones (bone metastases).