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The A to Z of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Mounting evidence suggests that exposure to Monsanto's Roundup weed killer increases the risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer that originates in the lymphatic system.

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, also known as Lymphoma or just NHL, is a type of cancer that starts in the lymphocytes, which are the white blood cells and are responsible for the proper functioning of the body's immune system.

In this type of cancer, some of the white blood cells divide abnormally. The white blood cells have been designed to have a resting time, but in people who have lymphoma, some of these cells divide continuously and so their number is higher than usual.

Because they start dividing before they reach maturity, they cannot effectively fight infection. These abnormal white blood cells start collecting in the lymph nodes, the spleen, the bone marrow, or other organs growing into tumors.

Each non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is assigned a stage depending on how serious the disease is. This helps the doctor determine the treatment options and prognosis.

  • Stage I- the disease is limited to one lymph node or a group of nearby nodes.
  • Stage II - the disease is located in two lymph node regions, or one organ and the nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage III - the disease has moved above and below the diaphragm and/or it has reached the spleen.
  • Stage IV - the disease is in several portions of one or more organs and tissues. Other organs and parts of the body might be affected, such as the liver, lungs or bones.

NHL has many symptoms and signs, depending on the stage of the disease and its location, but sometimes there might be no symptoms until the tumor grows quite large. Many of the signs might even be confused with other diseases and affections, such as an infection. Only after a thorough check, the doctor will be able to give a correct diagnosis.

Some common symptoms of NHL include:

  • Weight loss
  • Feeling very tired
  • Chills
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Feeling full after eating a small meal
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pressure and pain
  • Frequent or severe infections
  • Easy bleeding or bruising

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma does not have a specific cause but doctors believe that a weakened immune system plays an important role.

Still, there are some risk factors that can be taken into consideration:

  • Medications that suppress the immune system, such as immunosuppressive therapy after an organ transplant.
  • Infection with certain bacteria and viruses and bacteria such as the ulcer-causing Helicobacter pylori, HIV, and Epstein-Barr infection.
  • Chemicals, such as those found in Roundup, may increase the risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
  • Older age. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is most common in people 60 or over.

The treatment for non-Hodgkin Lymphoma depends on the nature of the disease. For this, the doctor has to determine what type of lymphocyte has been affected (B Cells or T Cells) and how fast the lymphomas grow and spread (indolent or aggressive).

B Cell or T Cell NHL

  • B cells. B cells produce antibodies to fight infection neutralizing foreign invaders. Usually, NHL arises from B cells and can be divided into diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, mantle cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, and Burkitt lymphoma.
  • T cells. T cells directly kill foreign invaders. Subtypes of NHL that involve T cells include cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and peripheral T-cell lymphoma.

Indolent vs. aggressive NHL

  • Indolent lymphomas. Because these types of lymphomas grow and spread slowly might not need to be urgently treated right away. They can be watched closely and see their development. Follicular lymphoma is the most common type of indolent lymphoma in the US.
  • Aggressive lymphomas. These types of lymphomas grow and spread quickly and they usually need to be treated right away. Diffuse large B cell lymphoma, shortened DLBCL, is the most common type of aggressive lymphoma in the US.

Unfortunately, some types of lymphoma, such as mantle cell lymphoma, do not fit neatly into either of these categories.

If the Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma causes symptoms and signs or is the aggressive type, the treatment will include one or several of the following:

  • Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that is injected or given orally. Its aim is to kill cancer cells and the side effects depend on the type of drugs given. The patient might experience hair loss and nausea, but also lung damage, heart damage, fertility problems or even leukemia.

  • Radiation therapy

During radiation therapy, high-powered energy beams (protons and X-rays) are used to kill cancer cells. During this procedure, the patient will be positioned on a table, while the machine will direct the radiation beams at precise points on the body, such as the affected lymph nodes and the surrounding area where the disease might progress. The typical radiation treatment includes hospital visits to the hospital five days per week for a few weeks, with a radiation session of 30 minutes.

Side effects of radiation therapy include hair loss in the area where the radiation is aimed, skin redness, fatigue, but also heart disease, thyroid problems, stroke, infertility or even breast or lung cancer.

  • Bone marrow transplant

Bone marrow transplant (stem cell transplant) is another treatment option. First, the patient has to undergo high doses of radiation therapy or chemotherapy to suppress the bone marrow. Then healthy bone marrow stem cells will be harvested from the patient or a donor and then infused back into the body and start rebuilding new bone marrow.

  • Drug therapy

Biological therapy can also be used to help the body's immune system fight the disease. Rituximab (Rituxan) is a monoclonal antibody that attaches to the B Cells making them more visible to the immune system. Although the antibody lowers the number of B cells, it forces the body to produce new healthy ones to replace them. This makes the cancerous B cells less likely to occur.

Some doctors prescribe Radioimmunotherapy drugs that are made of monoclonal antibodies. They carry radioactive isotopes which allow the antibody to attach to cancer cells and deliver radiation directly to the cells. An example of a radioimmunotherapy drug used to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is ibritumomab tiuxetan (Zevalin).

After completing your treatment for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, you should still see your doctor on a regular basis and have tests done to check for signs of cancer recurrence or developing new cancer. People who suffered from Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma have an increased risk of developing other types of cancer such as lung cancer, melanoma skin cancer, kidney cancer, colon cancer, bladder cancer, thyroid cancer, leukemia, Hodgkin disease, bone cancer, or cancers of the neck and head.

Women who had treatment with chest radiation before the age of 30 are at risk of developing breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends these women yearly breast MRI, mammograms, and breast exams.

Some people might never get their NHL completely cured. For them, it is imperative to get regular treatments with radiation, chemo, or other therapies to keep the lymphoma under control and to relieve the symptoms. Your doctor will perform blood tests and imaging tests such as CT scans or PET/CT.

The best way to detect Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in its early stage is to pay attention to the symptoms, especially a bump or lump under the skin, usually in the armpit, in the groin or on the side of the neck. Having regular check-ups is of utmost importance for people with risk factors, such as HIV infection, autoimmune disease, organ transplant, or prior cancer treatment.

Connection between non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and Roundup

Glyphosate-based herbicides inhibit a specific enzyme called EPSP synthase that plants need in order to grow. Without EPSP synthase, plants are unable to produce proteins essential to growth, so they die over the course of several days. Glyphosate annihilates plants like antibiotics annihilate bacteria.

Is glyphosate likely to contribute to cancer development? To this question, the jury says, yes.?A California jury ordered Monsanto Co. to pay $289 million to the former school groundskeeper diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

In 2015, the World Health Organisation's cancer agency asserts that glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic" to humans. Some countries such as Portugal, Italy, and the Canadian city of Vancouver, have banned glyphosate use in public parks and gardens.

A broad new scientific analysis of the cancer-causing potential of glyphosate herbicides has found that exposure to the most widely used broad-spectrum systemic herbicide in the world, increases the risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma by 41 percent.

The study found that the type of herbicide used influenced cancer risk, and the researchers also suggested that the active ingredients in the herbicide, too, could influence the development of cancer - and the active ingredients used may also be associated with specific cancer subtypes.

Glyphosate usage has increased considerably in the years since studies collected their exposure data, so studies done now could include higher exposures and more exposed individuals, possibly leading to stronger conclusions.

You can pursue an injury claim over health problems linked to the use of Roundup

New studies proved that Roundup, with its active ingredient glyphosate, is more toxic than declared.

Individuals who have developed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma or other conditions and previously have worked with glyphosate extensively stepped forward and began to claim their rights.

If you or a family member have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma under suspicion of exposure to glyphosate-containing products, don't hesitate to contact us in order to discuss your options regarding fair compensation for your pain and suffering.