Non-Hodgkin lymphoma 101

WASHINGTON — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced that he is battling a type of cancer called B cell Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

In his announcement Monday, he described his cancer as aggressive, and that it spread rapidly. But he says it’s treatable and he expects to undergo intensive chemotherapy soon that will require him to spend several days in the hospital. But that will be just the beginning of his fight.

So what is Non-Hodgkin lymphoma?

This cancer develops from white blood cells stored within the lymph nodes, which is where the cancer typically starts, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the cancer can spread to other parts of the lymphatic system including the tonsils, spleen and bone marrow.

Hogan says that he had a sample of bone marrow taken just hours before he publicly announced his diagnosis.

The CDC says that there are many different types of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, including the type that afflicts B cells, and these cancers can be either fast-growing or slow-growing depending on the type.

Symptoms include painless, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin; abdominal pain; coughing or trouble breathing; fatigue; fever; night sweats or weight loss, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Hogan says he went to see his primary care doctor after he noticed a lump in his neck while shaving. His doctor sent him to see an ear, nose and throat doctor who ordered a series of tests, which uncovered more lumps in his chest. Additional tests located more tumors in his core and groin area.

Who’s at risk?

According to the Mayo Clinic, adults ages 60 and older are the most common patients to battle this type of cancer although it can occur at any age.

Patients taking immune-suppressing medications and those who have been infected with certain bacteria or viruses like Epstein-Barr or HIV are at greater risk of developing the cancer.

Survival rates?

Although Hogan says his cancer is aggressive, he says it’s also a type of cancer that responds well to chemotherapy treatment.

“There’s a very strong chance of success, not only a strong chance of survival, but a strong chance of beating it all together and getting rid of the cancer,” he said during his Tuesday afternoon announcement.

According to the CDC, 70 percent of those diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma are still alive after five years.

Find more information and resources about lymphomas on the National Cancer Institute’s website.

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