Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a term used to describe a variety of cancers that can occur in the lymphatic system of the body. These cancers affect a certain type of white blood cells found in the body called lymphocytes, corrupting their DNA and causing them to grow abnormally. As the condition progresses, the corrupted white blood cells inhibit the production of healthy blood cells and the condition can spread to other areas of the body. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the fifth most common type of cancer in the nation and the number of new cases diagnosed increases every year. Researchers are unsure of the exact cause of the development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but they have identified a number of risk factors that seem to increase the chance that an individual will develop the condition.
One risk factor associated with the development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the exposure to certain types of viruses and bacteria. Individuals that have been infected with the Epstein-Barr virus, one of the most common human viruses and the cause of infectious mononucleosis, have an increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma during their lifetime. Another infectious agent associated with an increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is Helicobacter bacteria, known to cause gastrointestinal illnesses and ulcers. The HLTV-1 virus is believed to be responsible for the occurrence of many cases of lymphoma, particularly in areas such as Japan and the Caribbean where the virus is endemic.
The age and sex of an individual can increase the likelihood that an individual will develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as the condition typically affects older individuals that are male. A greatly weakened immune system has also been found to increase an individual’s risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Individuals that have inherited immune system deficiencies or autoimmune diseases develop the condition in much higher numbers than the general population. The condition has been known to affect individuals that are taking immunosuppressant medications following an organ transplant or related surgeries. Individuals with advanced HIV or AIDS also have a greatly increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Exposure to hazardous environmental agents can also increase an individual’s risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The condition has been found to occur in higher numbers in individuals that have had long term exposure to certain chemicals, such as benzene. Because these chemicals, particularly benzene, are used in high amounts in a large number of different industries, the number of individuals that have been exposed to the chemical for long periods of time and are at an increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma could number in the millions.
Researchers have determined that non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cannot be caused by an injury and is not considered a contagious condition. The condition cannot be passed from person to person through contact. Although much is still unknown about the condition, by researching and looking for patterns in the individuals that have developed the condition, researchers can identify common risk factors that can contribute to the development of the condition. Not all individuals that have been exposed to these risk factors develop the condition and some individuals that have developed the condition have not been exposed to any of the risk factors during their lifetime.
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If you or a loved one have been exposed to Benzene and developed a form of leukemia or other blood related disease, you should contact us immediately. You may be entitled to compensation and we can help.