Lymph vessels: A network of thin tubes that collect lymph from different parts of the body and return it to the bloodstream.
Small, bean-shaped structures that filter lymph and store white blood cells that help fight
infection and disease. Lymph nodes are located along the network of lymph vessels
found throughout the body. Clusters of lymph nodes are found in the underarm,
pelvis, neck, abdomen, and groin.
Spleen: An organ that makes lymphocytes, filters the
blood, stores blood cells, and destroys old blood cells. It is on the
left side of the abdomen near the stomach.
Thymus: An organ in which lymphocytes grow and multiply. The
thymus is in the chest behind the breastbone.
Tonsils: Two small masses of lymph tissue at the back of the throat. The
tonsils make lymphocytes.
Anatomy of the lymph system, showing the lymph vessels and lymph organs including lymph nodes, tonsils, thymus, spleen, and bone marrow. Lymph (clear fluid) and lymphocytes travel through the lymph vessels and into the lymph nodes where the lymphocytes destroy harmful substances. The lymph enters the blood through a large vein near the heart.
Because lymph tissue is found throughout the body, adult non-Hodgkin
lymphoma can begin in almost any part of the body. Cancer can spread to the
liver and many other organs and tissues.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in pregnant women is the same as the disease in nonpregnant women of childbearing age. However, treatment is different for pregnant women. This summary includes information on the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma during pregnancy
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can occur in both adults and children. Treatment for children, however, is different than treatment for adults.
(See the PDQ summary on Childhood
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment for more information.)
There are many different types of
Lymphomas are divided into two general types: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This summary is about the treatment of adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma. For information about other types of lymphoma, see the following PDQ summaries:
Age, gender, and a weakened immune system can affect the risk of
developing adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. People who think they may be at risk should discuss this with their doctor. Risk factors for adult
non-Hodgkin lymphoma include the following:
Pain in the chest, abdomen, or bones for no known reason.
Tests that examine the body and lymph system are used to
help detect (find) and diagnose adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The following tests and procedures may be used:
Physical exam and history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy: The removal of bone marrow, blood, and a small piece of bone by inserting a needle into the hipbone or breastbone. A pathologist views the bone marrow, blood, and bone under a microscope to look for signs of cancer.
Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy. After a small area of skin is numbed, a Jamshidi needle (a long, hollow needle) is inserted into the patient’s hip bone. Samples of blood, bone, and bone marrow are removed for examination under a microscope.
Lumbar puncture: A procedure used to collect cerebrospinal fluid from the spinal column. This is done by placing a needle into the spinal column. This procedure is also called an LP or spinal tap. A pathologist views the cerebrospinal fluid under a microscope to look for signs of cancer.
Lumbar puncture. A patient lies in a curled position on a table. After a small area on the lower back is numbed, a spinal needle (a long, thin needle) is inserted into the lower part of the spinal column to remove cerebrospinal fluid (CSF, shown in blue). The fluid may be sent to a laboratory for testing.
Lymph node biopsy: The
removal of all or part of a lymph node. A pathologist views the tissue under a microscope to look for cancer cells. One of the following types of biopsies may be done:
Laparoscopy: A surgical procedure to look at the organs inside the abdomen to check for signs of disease. Small incisions (cuts) are made in the wall of the abdomen and a laparoscope (a thin, lighted tube) is inserted into one of the incisions. Other instruments may be inserted through the same or other incisions to perform procedures such as removing organs or taking tissue samples to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease.
Laparotomy: A surgical procedure in which an incision (cut) is made in the wall of the abdomen to check the inside of the abdomen for signs of disease. The size of the incision depends on the reason the laparotomy is being done. Sometimes organs are removed or tissue samples are taken and checked under a microscope for signs of disease.
If cancer is found, the following tests may be done to study the cancer cells:
Immunophenotyping: A process used to identify cells, based on the types of antigens or markers on the surface of the cell. This process is used to diagnose specific types of leukemia and lymphoma by comparing the cancer cells to normal cells of the immune system.
Certain factors affect prognosis (chance
of recovery) and treatment options.
Whether the lymphoma has just been diagnosed or has recurred (come back).
Prognosis also depends on the level of LDH in the blood.
For non-Hodgkin lymphoma during pregnancy, the treatment options also depend on:
The wishes of the patient
Which trimester of pregnancy the patient is in.
Some types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma spread more quickly than
others do. Most non-Hodgkin lymphomas that occur during pregnancy are
aggressive. Delaying treatment
of aggressive lymphoma until after the baby is born may lessen the mother's chance of survival. Immediate
treatment is often recommended, even during pregnancy.