your white blood cells (lymphocytes) go through a predictable life
cycle. Old lymphocytes die, and your body creates new ones to replace
them. But in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, your body produces abnormal
lymphocytes that continue to divide and grow uncontrollably. This
oversupply of lymphocytes crowds into your lymph nodes, causing
them to swell.
Doctors don't know what exactly causes non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. But
researchers believe that activation of certain abnormal genes may
be involved in the development of all cancers, including lymphomas.
Lymphocytes exist either as B cells or T cells. B cells fight infection
by producing plasma cells, which in turn produce antibodies that
neutralize foreign invaders. T cells are involved in killing foreign
invaders directly. About 85 percent of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas occur
in B cells. The rest arise in T cells.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma generally involves the presence of cancerous
cells 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 the lymphatic
• drenching night sweats
• weight loss
• appetite loss
• red patches on the skin
• severely itchy skin, often affecting the legs/feet
Swollen, painless lymph nodes in your neck, armpit or groin areas
are often the only sign of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in its early stages.
Other signs and symptoms may include:
Abdominal pain or swellings