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Health Care
Diseases and Indications
Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
 

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) is a cancer that develops in lymphatic tissue, which is found in many places throughout the body, including the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus gland, adenoids, tonsils and bone marrow. Approximately 1.5 million people world-wide currently live with NHL and each year an estimated 300,000 people die from this disease. The incidence is rising 3-7 percent per year, making it the second fastest-growing cancer in the United States and the third fastest-growing in the rest of the world. It occurs mainly in adults, most frequently in people between 45 and 60 years of age.

What is NHL?
The lymphatic system, an important part of the immune system, plays a major role in the body's defence against infection. While non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL) starts in the lymphatic tissue, it can spread to other organs.

NHL is generally classified into two equal groups:

  • Aggressive (intermediate/high grade) NHL is characterised by rapidly dividing cancer cells of the lymph node region, and requires immediate treatment. Without successful treatment, the average life expectancy of patients with aggressive NHL is six months to two years. Patients who are diagnosed and treated in the early stages of aggressive disease are more likely to experience a complete remission of several years' duration and are less likely to have late recurrences.

  • Indolent lymphomas slowly divide and multiply in the body making initial diagnosis more difficult. Patients may live an average of 10 years with the disease and an average patient with indolent NHL can expect to be treated five to six times over their life span in order to slow the disease progression. Standard treatments cannot cure indolent disease.

Conventional Therapy
Treatment of NHL depends on the type of tumour and how advanced it is. Current treatments include 'watch and wait' until the cancer causes symptoms, chemotherapy, monoclonal antibody therapy, radiation, biological treatments and bone marrow transplantation. In patients with aggressive NHL, standard chemotherapy is successful in three to four people out of 10.

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