Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

What Causes Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma?

In order to deal properly with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma we need to understand and — if possible — remove the underlying causes and risk factors.  We need to ask: "What else is going on inside the body that might allow non-Hodgkin's lymphoma to develop?"

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Accurate diagnosis of the factors behind non-Hodgkin's lymphoma consists of three steps:

Step 1: List the Possible Causative Factors

Identify all disease conditions, lifestyle choices and environmental risk factors that can lead to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.  Here are five possibilities:
  • Psoriasis
  • Cigarette Smoke Damage
  • Epstein-Barr Virus
  • Weakened Immune System

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

Identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
moderate epigastric pain
poor cold weather tolerance
prednisone use
multiple painful cervical nodes
painful cervical nodes
tonsils/adenoids out before age 20
pitted nails
regular sore throats
regular earaches
swollen cervical nodes
increased emotional instability
frequent infections
... and more than 60 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma:
Cause Probability Status
HIV/AIDS 95% Confirm
Epstein-Barr Virus 20% Unlikely
Cigarette Smoke Damage 1% Ruled out
Psoriasis 1% Ruled out
Weakened Immune System 1% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate cancer, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Have you suffered from Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL)?
Possible responses:
→ No / don't know
→ Yes but now resolved for over 5 years
→ Yes but now resolved for under 5 years
→ Current problem but containable
→ Current problem and aggressive/spreading
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate either history of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:

People with HIV have a weakened immune system and, as a result, are more likely to develop certain cancers.  Non-Hodgkin's Lymphomas are the second-most common type of malignancy after Kaposi's Sarcoma in HIV patients.

Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)

Human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-1) and Epstein-Barr virus are two infectious agents that increase the chance of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.


People who suffer from the skin disease psoriasis are at an increased risk for cancer, according to a study ending in 2003 that involved 108,000 patients.  Specifically, study authors found that patients with psoriasis had a nearly three-fold increased rate of lymphoma.

Previous research had found an association between psoriasis and lymphoma.  Doctors from the University of Pennsylvania studied whether the rate of lymphoma in patients with a history of psoriasis is different from the rate of lymphoma in patients without psoriasis.  After reviewing records, researchers found all the patients with psoriasis who had lymphoma were treated with medications consistent with psoriasis treatment.

While researchers concluded that there is an association between psoriasis and lymphoma, they felt additional research needed to be done to determine if this association is related to psoriasis severity, psoriasis treatment or an interaction between these risk factors. [Archives of Dermatology, 2003;139: pp.1425-9]

Weakened Immune System

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is more common among people with inherited immune deficiencies, autoimmune diseases, or HIV/AIDS, and among people taking immunosuppressant drugs following organ transplants.

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