non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Last edited 05/2019

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) is a malignant proliferation of lymphocytes

NHL is the sixth most common cancer in the UK.

There are many different subtypes of the disease, with markedly different clinical courses and requirements for therapy. Diagnosing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and identifying the precise subtype is challenging, and optimising the diagnostic process is central to improved management (1)

  • majority derives from B cells (around 85-90%) and the remainder from T lymphocytes or natural killer (NK) cells (2).

The aetiology of most cases of NHL is unknown. Possible aetiologic factors include:

  • Epstein Barr virus  - linked to Burkitt’s lymphoma
  • human herpesvirus 8 – related to  diffuse large B cell lymphoma
  • human immunodeficiency virus – in  AIDS-associated NHLs
  • helicobacter pylori  - gastric MALT NHL
  • hepatitis C virus (3)

It is important to diagnose NHL as some cases are curable and most are treatable

The prognosis depends on the histologic type, stage, and treatment (4).