Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma [NHL] is a very common cancer. It’s one of the most frequently diagnosed in the United States right now. It begins to form in the cells that help to protect the body against invaders that are called “lymphocytes.” Named after the physician who first described it, this cancer can be found in all lymphatic tissues. There are many different sub-types that can develop and Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma is more common than the disease that Hodgkin originally discussed.
Facts About Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
1. NHL is the 7th most common type of cancer in the United States, yet just 27.8% of the new cases that will be diagnosed will be caught at the local stage.
2. The average lifetime risk of developing NHL: 1 in 50. Approximately 2.1% of men and women will be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma at some point during their lifetime.
3. 4.3%. That’s the percentage of all new cancer cases that will be NHL in the next 12 months. NHL also accounts for 3.2% of all cancer fatalities.
4. In 2011, there were an estimated 530,919 people living with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the United States.
5. About 72,000 people will be diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma every year in the United States.
6. 19,790. That’s the number of people, on average, who will succumb to this cancer every year.
7. Since the 1990s, the death rates from NHL have been declining every year.
8. NHL can occur at any age, but about half of patients are older than 66.
9. Although some types of NHL are among the more common childhood cancers, more than 95% of cases occur in adults.
10. Men are slightly more likely to be diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma when compared to women.
11. 80% of men will survive NHL for at least one year. 68% will survive longer than 5 years.
12. 79% of women survive NHL for 1 year or more and 70% are predicted to survive for at least five years.
13. The 10 year survival rate of NHL for both men and women averages 63%.
14. The 1 year relative survival is significantly better for follicular lymphoma (96%) than for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (65%).
15. The 5 year survival rate for mantle cell lymphoma is just 27%.
16. The 5 year net survival in men ranges from 83% in 15-39 year-olds to 36% in the 80-99 age demographic.
17. Rates for new Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma cases have been rising on average 0.5% each year over the last 10 years, but death rates have been falling by 2.6% over the same time.
The symptoms of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma are very similar to a severe cold or case of influenza that just doesn’t seem to go away. There can be swollen lymph nodes in the groin, neck, or under the arm, abdominal or chest pain with swelling, and a fever. Night sweats and persistent fatigue are very common as well. Early detection is essential to this disease, so if these symptoms persist, it is important to see a doctor right away.
Certain Risk Factors Increase the Chances of NHL
Most people who will be diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma will not have any obvious risk factors. There are risks factors associated with NHL, however, for people who are regularly taking medications that suppress the immune system. Certain bacteria and viruses are also linked to the development of NHL, including HIV, EBV, and Helicobacter pylori, which can cause stomach ulcers. Age is also a risk factor, even though this disease is known to occur at any age.
The exposure to certain chemicals is also thought to increase the risks of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma developing, but this is just a possible link at this moment.
Treating NHL sometimes takes a wait-and-see approach. Sometimes it grows so slowly that treatment may not be necessary for several years. In this type of circumstance, patients are generally seen every 3-6 months to track the progress of the cancer. When lymphoma does cause signs and symptoms, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell treatments have all shown to be effective. Radiation delivering drugs and medications to boost the immune system are also used.
The diagnosis of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma can be a scary moment for someone, but this disease does not need to define a life. With early detection, an effective treatment plan, and proper supports in place, the majority of people who receive a NHL diagnosis today will leave at least 10 years beyond this moment. With treatment protocols ever evolving, a cure may be here soon. Until then, knowing statistics like these can be a source of hope.