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Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (cont.)

What Increases Your Risk

Some things can increase your chances of getting non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). These things are called risk factors. But many people who get non-Hodgkin's lymphoma don't have any of these risk factors. And some people who have risk factors don't get the disease.

Risk factors include:2

  • Being male. NHL is more common in men than in women.
  • Age. The likelihood of getting NHL increases as you get older.
  • Impaired immune system. NHL is most common among those who have an impaired immune system, an autoimmune disease, or HIV or AIDS. It also occurs among those who take immunosuppressant medicines, such as medicines following an organ transplant.
  • Viral infection. A viral infection, such as Epstein-Barr virus, increases the risk of developing NHL.
  • Bacterial infection. Infection with Helicobacter pylori increases the risk of lymphoma involving the stomach.
  • Environmental exposure. Exposure to agricultural pesticides or fertilizers, solvents, and other chemicals may increase the risk of developing NHL.

When To Call a Doctor

Call your doctor to schedule an appointment if you have had any symptoms for longer than 2 weeks, such as:

  • Painless swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin.
  • Unexplained fever.
  • Drenching night sweats.
  • Extreme fatigue.
  • Unexplained weight loss in the past 6 months.
  • Itchy skin.
  • Cough or shortness of breath.
  • Pain in the belly or back.

Who to see

Health professionals who can evaluate your symptoms of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) include:

When NHL is suspected, a tissue sample (biopsy) is needed to make a diagnosis. A biopsy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is usually taken from a lymph node. But other tissues may be sampled as well. A surgeon will remove a sample of tissue so that a pathologist can examine it under a microscope to check for cancer cells.

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is usually treated by a medical oncologist or a hematologist. If you need radiation therapy, you will also see a radiation oncologist.

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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