Risk Factors/Signs and Symtoms

Several factors exist that may affect a person's chance of getting Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. There are many types of lymphomas, and some of these factors have been linked only to certain types.

Age - Most cases occur in people in their 60s or older.

Gender - Generally speaking, men have higher rates of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma than women. However, there are certain types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that are more common in women.

Race and Ethnicity - Whites are more likely than African Americans and Asian Americans to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Body Type and Diet - Being overweight or obese may increase your risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Diets high in vegetables may lower the risk, although more research is needed to confirm this.

Chemical Exposure - Some studies suggest that chemicals such as benzene and certain herbicides and insecticides (weed- and insect-killing substances) may be linked with an increased risk of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

Radiation Exposure - Studies of survivors of atomic bombs and nuclear reactor accidents have shown an increased risk of developing Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Patients treated with radiation therapy for some other cancers also have a slightly increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma later in life.

Autoimmune Diseases - Several autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE or lupus) have been linked with an increased rate of the disease.

Immune System Deficiency - Patients with weakened immune systems have an increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma such as:

Patients who receive organ transplants (kidney, heart, liver) are treated with drugs that suppress their immune system to prevent it from attacking the new organ. 

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) can also weaken the immune system, and people infected with HIV are at increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Infections - Several types of infections may raise the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. An infection that can affect the DNA of lymphocytes is believed to help the transformation into cancer cells. The Human T-Cell Leukemia/Lymphoma Virus (HTLV-1) and the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) seem to work in this way. It is now thought that Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) seems to be a risk factor for developing certain types of lymphoma.

Signs and Symptoms

Although a patient may feel perfectly well, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma may be present. There are signs and symptoms of the disease to indicate testing should be done:

Lumps - Lumps may develop in the underarm, groin, collarbone and neck underneath the skin .  Take particular note if the lumps are not always present, but rather appear and then disappear. Also, notice if they should become painful after consuming alcohol.

Abdominal Swelling - A tumor or large collection of fluid may cause the abdomen to become swollen and tender. With a swelling near the intestines, the passage of feces may be blocked, which may lead to abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting.

Superior Vena Cava (SVC) Syndrome - The SVC is the large vein that carries blood from the head and arms back to the heart. If a lymphoma may pushes against the SVC, blood can back up in the veins, causing SVC Syndrome. This can cause swelling (and sometimes a bluish-red color) in the head, arms, and upper chest. It can also cause trouble breathing and a change in consciousness if it affects the brain. 
Cerebral or Brain Functions - Lymphomas of the brain can cause headaches, trouble thinking, weakness in certain parts of the body, personality changes, and sometimes seizures.

Fever - A high temperature will occur that may (or may not) exhibit over the course of several days or weeks

Night Sweats and Weight Loss - Awaking drenched in sweat and losing weight when not intending to can be an indication of Hodkin Disease

Fatigue and Loss of Appetite - In some patients, it is possible that the only sign of the disease is constant and consistent tiredness and not feeling hungry.

Coughing and Breathing Issues - If the form of the disease affects lymph nodes inside the chest, it results in the swelling of nodes pressing against the windpipe.

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