Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma treatment and diagnosis

NHL is an unusual cancer but it’s more common in men aged over 65.

 

What is Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?

Non-Hodgkin’s (or non-Hodgkin) lymphoma (NHL) starts in the white blood cells (lymphocytes). White blood cells are part of the immune system. They help fight infection. NHL means they develop in abnormal ways. This stops the white blood cells being able to protect the body from diseases.

Different types of NHL begin in various parts of the body. They grow and spread in different ways. They include:

  • Indolent lymphomas: these grow and spread slowly
  • Aggressive lymphomas: these grow and spread quickly

 

Causes of NHL

Although no one is sure exactly what causes NHL it’s more likely if:

  • A close relative has NHL
  • You already have a condition that makes your immune system weaker
  • You have been prescribed immunosuppressant medicine
  • You have HIV
  • You’ve had an organ transplant
  • You’ve had cancer treatment
  • You’ve had the Epstein-Barr virus in the past (which causes glandular fever)

Symptoms of NHL

Most people have a painless lump that develops in a lymph node (gland). This is usually in the armpit, groin or neck. Other signs include:

A high temperature (fever)

Sweating at night

Unexplained weight loss

A nagging cough, or breathlessness

Feeling very tired

Itchy skin all over the body

Having a swollen abdomen (tummy)

Some people may also experience heavy bleeding such as nosebleeds, or blood spots under the skin.

Tests and diagnosis

After discussing your symptoms and any family history of NHL, your doctor will arrange for a blood test to check for infections or other conditions. To confirm that you have NHL, your doctor will arrange for you to have a bone marrow biopsy. This is when a tiny sample of tissue is removed and sent to a laboratory for analysis. You may also have:

  • Chest X-ray to check for enlarged lymph nodes
  • Scans including CT, MRI and PET
  • Lumbar puncture

Treatments we offer

Treatment for NHL usually involves chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Radiotherapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.

Read more

Chemotherapy is medication that treats your cancer. The drugs kill cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and spreading further.

Read more

Radiotherapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.

Read more

Chemotherapy is medication that treats your cancer. The drugs kill cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and spreading further.

Read more

Meet our doctors

Our-doctors

Everything we do is focused on designing better care for our patients. With a network of 12 specialist oncology treatment centres across the UK, we provide the most up-to-date treatments and technology as standard.

We attract and retain some of the most experienced doctors in the country, who all have a passion for improving patient outcomes and specialise in the treatment of different types of cancer.

Meet our doctors

Search for a centre near you

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Birmingham

Little Aston Hall Drive, Sutton Coldfield, B74 3BF

+44 (0)121 514 1185

Bristol

300 Park Avenue, Aztec West, Bristol, BS32 4SY

+44 (0)1454 642801

Cambridge

Fordham Rd, Newmarket CB8 7XN, UK

+44 (0)1223 633 664

Chelmsford

Springfield Cancer Centre, Lawn Lane, Chelmsford, CM1 7GU

+44 (0)1245 676 351

Cromwell Hospital

164-178 Cromwell Rd, Kensington, London SW5 0TU, UK

+44 (0)203 613 9355

Elstree

Unit 710, Centennial Park, Centennial Avenue, Elstree, Borehamwood, WD6 3SZ

+44 (0)203 613 9356

Guildford

BMI St Martha Oncology Centre, 46 Harvey Road, Guildford, GU1 3LX

+44 (0)1483 676 898

Maidstone

17 Kings Hill Avenue, Kings Hill, West Malling, ME19 4UA

+44 (0)1732 386 599

Milton Keynes

Sunrise Parkway, Linford Wood East, Milton Keynes, MK14 6LS

+44 (0)1908 448 166

Nottingham

The Park Centre for oncology, Sherwood Lodge Drive, Burntstump Country Park, Nottingham, NG5 8RX

+44 (0)1156 762 989

Oxford

Peters Way, Sandy Lane West, Oxford, OX4 6LB

+44 (0)1865 224 884

Portsmouth

Bartons Road, Havant, PO9 5NA

+44 (0)23 9280 0102

Southampton

Spire Hospital, Chalybeate Close, Southampton, SO16 6UY

+44 (0)238 008 5138

Windsor

69 Alma Road, Windsor, SL4 3HD

+44 (0)1753 465 493