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Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Also called: NHL, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

What is non-Hodgkin lymphoma?

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is the group name for all types of lymphomas except Hodgkin lymphoma.

Lymphomas are cancers that begin in the body’s lymphatic system. This system transports white blood cells called lymphocytes through the body. Lymphocytes help the body to filter out dead cells and foreign organisms, such as bacteria. This helps the body fight off infection.

NHLs can arise in many sites including the lymph nodes, thymus gland, spleen and abdominal organs such as the bowel.

How common is non-Hodgkin lymphoma?

  • NHLs account for 55 percent of childhood lymphomas.
  • Each year in the United States, about 800 new cases of NHL are diagnosed in children up to age 19.
  • Out of a million children, about nine white children younger than age 15 develop NHL each year.
  • Twice as many white children develop the disease as African-American children.
  • NHL occurs in two to three times more boys than girls.
  • The likelihood of developing NHL is higher for people who take certain medications or who have the following:
    • A brother or sister with NHL
    • Disorders affecting the immune system, such as those caused by HIV and other viruses

What are the symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma?

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • A painless lump or swelling of the testicle(s)
  • Trouble swallowing

How is non-Hodgkin lymphoma treated?

Combination chemotherapy is most often used to treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Radiation therapy is rarely needed.

  • Chemotherapy (“chemo”)—uses powerful medicines to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing (dividing) and making more cancer cells:
    • Chemo may be injected into the bloodstream, so that it can travel throughout the body.
    • Some chemo may be given by mouth.
    • Combination therapy uses more than one type of chemo at a time.

What are the survival rates for non-Hodgkin lymphoma?

  • About 80 percent of patients treated for non-Hodgkin lymphoma remain disease-free.
  • This positive outlook increases to about 90 percent for children with early, localized NHL.

Why choose St. Jude for your child’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma treatment?

  • St. Jude is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children.
  • St. Jude has created more clinical trials for cancer than any other children’s hospital in the United States.
  • The nurse-to-patient ratio at St. Jude is unmatched—averaging 1:3 in hematology and oncology and 1:1 in the Intensive Care Unit.
  • Patients have access to a large clinical team sub-specialized in Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • St. Jude has developed a specific treatment for children with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The St. Jude website is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through this site should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.