Non Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL)


Non Hodgkin Lymphoma is a kind of lymphoma cancer that develops in the lymphatic system, which is the component of the body’s immune system that fights infection and other diseases. The cancer starts when T cells, B cells and NK cells grow uncontrollably, eventually forming a tumor that can spread to different other regions as the lymphatic system runs all over the body. Unlike Hodgkin Lymphoma, NHL have different appearance under microscope and don’t have Reed-Sternberg cells.

Causes of Non Hodgkin Lymphoma

There are many medical conditions that can cause NHL in both children and adults. These conditions include:

  • Inherited immune deficits
  • Genetic syndromes
  • Immune disorders
  • Celiac disease
  • Psoriasis
  • Family history of lymphoma
  • Certain bacterias and viruses
  • Molecular rearrangements

Treatment of Non Hodgkin Lymphoma

The treatment of NHL generally depends on the stage of the cancer, kind of lymphoma, size of the tumor and the overall health of the patient. An oncologist along with a hematologist and a nurse will perform the treatment.

Treatment of NHL can be done through several ways. These include

  • Chemotherapy: One of the most common methods of treating cancer, chemotherapy involves using certain anti-cancer medications, which are usually injected into the patient’s body through a vein or mouth. The drugs used vary from stage of cancer and patient’s medical condition, which enter the bloodstream and reaches every part of the body, destroying the cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy: As the name suggests, this therapy helps either enhance the patient’s immune system or uses man made immunity that reduces the growth of cancer cells. Certain antibiotics are used along with chemotherapy to increase its effects.
  • Radiation Therapy: Another very common treatment for cancer where a focused beam of radiation is used to kill the tumor by targeting the exact location of the disease with proper dose. The treatment lasts only for a few minutes and is very effective in stage I and II to lymphoma cancer.
  • Targeted Therapy: Drugs that are specifically targeted to reduce the alteration in cancer cells are known as targeted therapy. It is different from chemotherapy and may provide severe side effects.
  • Stem cell transplant: A not so usual method to treat lymphoma cancer, stem cell transplants has the ability to destroy the caner but can also affect the bone marrow that prevents new blood cells to be formed.


The complications of treating NHL may vary from treatment options and patient to patient. However, these complications occur only for a limited period and can easily be dealt by following proper health advice. These complications include

  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Mouth sores
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sunburn
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Low blood cell counts
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Bruising

Post operative care

For most of the people, treatment of NHL may cure the cancer, but the after affects can be very stressful as the fear of it coming back haunts the patients for many years. For many people, NHL may never go and thus they require regular treatments in the form of radiation, chemo and other therapies.

After the treatment, it is necessary to go to every follow up appointments as the doctor will want to watch you closely.

Note for any symptoms or side effects of the treatment that you may experience, which you need to tell the doctor.

Imaging tests such as CT, PET CT scans or X-Rays may be done to see any signs of cancer after the treatment.