Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer that starts in the lymphoid tissue. The lymphatic system helps filter germs and cancer cells as well as fluid from the extremities and internal organs.

Risk Factors

  • Weakened immune system — The risk of developing lymphoma may be increased by having a weakened immune system (such as from an inherited condition or certain drugs used after an organ transplant.
  • Certain infections — Having certain types of infections increases the risk of developing lymphoma. However, lymphome is not contagious. You cannot catch lymphoma from another person. The following are the main types of infection that can increase the risk of lymphoma:
    • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV): HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. People who have HIV infections are at much greater risk of some types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
    • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV): Infection with EBV has been linked to an increased risk of lymphoma. In Africa, EBV infection is linked to Burkitt lymphoma.
    • Helicobacter pylori: H. pylori are bacteria that can cause stomach ulcers. They also increase a person's risk of lymphoma in the stomach lining.
    • Human T-cell leukemia/lymphoma virus type 1 (HTLV-1): Infection with HTLV-1 increases a person's risk of lymphoma and leukemia.
    • Hepatitis C Virus: Some studies have found an increased risk of lymphoma in people with hepatitis C virus. More research is needed to understand the role of hepatitis C virus.
  • Age — Although non-Hodgkin lymphoma can occur in young people, the chance of developing this disease goes up with age. Most people with non-Hodgkin lymphoma are older than 60. (For information about this disease in children, call the NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER)


  • Constant fatigue
  • Itchy skin
  • Night sweats
  • Reddened patches on the skin
  • Unexplained fever
  • Unexplained weight loss


If non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is suspected, your physician will conduct a thorough physical exam and may use the following diagnostic procedures:

  • CT (or CAT) Scan — A CT scan will provide a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are created by a computer and linked to an X-ray machine.
  • Lymphangiogram — This procedure provides pictures of the lymphatic system taken with X-rays after a special dye is injected to outline the lymph nodes and vessels.
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) — A MRI scan will provide detailed pictures of the areas inside the body produced with a powerful magnet linked to a computer.
  • X-rays provide pictures of areas inside the body created by high-energy radiation.

Source: National Cancer Institute