non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

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lymphoma, non-Hodgkin's,

any cancer of the lymphoid tissue (see lymphatic systemlymphatic system
, network of vessels carrying lymph, or tissue-cleansing fluid, from the tissues into the veins of the circulatory system. The lymphatic system functions along with the circulatory system in absorbing nutrients from the small intestines.
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) in which the Reed-Sternberg cells characteristic of Hodgkin's diseaseHodgkin's disease,
a type of cancer of the lymphatic system. First identified in 1832 in England by Thomas Hodgkin, it is a type of malignant lymphoma. Incidence peaks in young adults and the elderly.
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 (the other category of lymphoma) are not present. There are about 10 different types of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, some slower- or faster-growing than others. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma can affect children as well as adults. In most cases the cause is unknown, but an increased incidence has been observed in people who have been exposed to Agent OrangeAgent Orange,
herbicide used by U.S. forces during the Vietnam War to expose enemy guerrilla forces in forested areas. Agent Orange contains varying amounts of dioxin. Exposure to the defoliant has been linked with chemical acne, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease,
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, and some forms of the disease are frequently seen in people with AIDSAIDS
or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome,
fatal disease caused by a rapidly mutating retrovirus that attacks the immune system and leaves the victim vulnerable to infections, malignancies, and neurological disorders. It was first recognized as a disease in 1981.
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, many of these in association with latent Epstein-Barr virus infection.

Symptoms

The first symptom of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is often a painless swelling of a lymph node in the neck, the groin, or under the arm. Other symptoms include fever, night sweats, itching, and unexplained weight loss. Diagnosis is made by laboratory study of tissue obtained by taking a biopsybiopsy
, examination of cells or tissues removed from a living organism. Excised material may be studied in order to diagnose disease or to confirm findings of normality. Preparatory techniques depend on the nature of the tissue and the kind of study intended.
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 of the suspicious lymph node or nodes.

Treatment

Treatment depends on how far the disease has progressed. It may include external-beam radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or biological therapy (boosting the body's immune response to the disease). Rituxan, a genetically engineered drug involving monoclonal antibodiesmonoclonal antibody,
an antibody that is mass produced in the laboratory from a single clone and that recognizes only one antigen. Monoclonal antibodies are typically made by fusing a normally short-lived, antibody-producing B cell (see immunity) to a fast-growing cell, such as
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, has been approved for use against some low-grade (slow-growing) non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Bone marrowbone marrow,
soft tissue filling the spongy interiors of animal bones. Red marrow is the principal organ that forms blood cells in mammals, including humans (see blood). In children, the bones contain only red marrow.
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 transplantation is also sometimes used. In this technique, bone marrow (blood cell–producing tissue inside bone) is taken from the patient and treated to kill any cancer cells. The patient is then given very high dose chemotherapy designed to destroy the cancer; it also destroys the remaining bone marrow. After chemotherapy, the stored marrow is reinserted into the patient. In children, chemotherapy is the most common treatment.

Bibliography

See publications of the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society.

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