Some one asked me what NHL was….and it is not so easy to explain but first let me give you the official medical dictionary term “non-Hodgkin lymphomas a diverse group of malignant lymphomas whose common feature is the absence of the giant Reed-Sternberg cells characteristic of Hodgkin disease. They arise from the lymphoid components of the immune system, and present a clinical picture broadly similar to that of Hodgkin disease except that these diseases are initially more widespread and involve painless enlargement of one or more peripheral lymph nodes. One widely used classification is based on two criteria: cytologic characteristics of the constituent cells and type of cell growth pattern (defined as either nodular [follicular] or diffuse). Another system of classification is based on the cell type of origin: T or B-lymphocytes or histiocytes. Still another formulation has been proposed, separating non-Hodgkin lymphomas into major subtypes using only morphologic criteria.
(this is directly from Dorland Medical Dictionary). NHL is a collection of cancers that affects the blood cells that make up the immune system or white blood cells known as lymphoma. That definition is similar to Hodgkin’s lymphoma and it is confusing to explain HL and NHL. But, in essence this guy named Hodgkin’s was the first one to really identify a blood cancer or lymphoma. later people started to realize there are many different types. It because very hard to classify them as even cancers from the same cells could look different (ie. even a cancer from T cells could be so different from one to another). So, as more were found, a subset of cancers from the blood were called NHL….thre are now 16 different cancers in this subtype. So, it is actually a classification system that defines what Hodgkin’s and non Hodgkin’s disease are…they use different criteria to help decide which is which. For the patient it does not matter much as long as they know what type of cancer it is…e.g. immune cell cancer of the B cell, etc. It really matters a lot for the physician who is treating you as he would need to know the exact classification so he can give you the right anti cancer treatment and can get an idea about survival issues, etc. I know this is not idea…but its the best I can do for now!
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