Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, also called non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or NHL, is a cancer that begins in white blood cells. White blood cells are lymphocytes, which are an integral part of the body’s immune and lymphatic systems. The lymphatic system is the part of the immune system that fights off infections and diseases, and helps transport fluids throughout the body.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma has been linked to exposure to certain chemicals or toxic substances, including benzene. It is also linked to occupational hazards like silica dust, concrete dust, herbicides, and insecticides.
What is Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma?
Lymphoma is a type of cancer that can develop anywhere in the lymphatic system. It is most common in parts of the lymphatic system where there are large concentrations of lymph tissue, such as:
- Lymph Nodes
- Bone Marrow
- Tonsils and Adenoids
- Digestive Tract
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can develop in either of the two types of lymphocytes in the body. These are:
- B Cells – Protect the body from bacteria and viruses by making antibodies.
- T Cells – Destroy abnormal cells or germs, and boosts/slows other cells in the immune system.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma most commonly develops in B cells. There are several types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and doctors use a variety of factors when attempting to classify a diagnosis. The World Health Organization (WHO) has a classification system that determines the type based on:
- Which lymphocyte the cancer started in
- The look of the lymphoma under a microscope
- Chromosomal features of the cells
- Certain proteins present on the surface of cancer cells
This classification is important for doctors to understand the cancer and how best to treat it.
How is Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Treated?
Treating non-Hodgkin lymphoma generally includes chemotherapy, radiation, bone marrow transplant, immunotherapy, and/or other targeted therapies.
Proper and timely treatment can eradicate lymphoma cells. If treatment is successful, patients will be carefully monitored for signs of recurrence. Some people find that treatment is successful at controlling lymphoma, but does not completely destroy it. In these cases, continuing therapies can help control symptoms and maintain quality of life.
Who is At Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma?
Some cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma are the result of genetic risk factors that cannot be predicted or eliminated. People with a family history of lymphoma have a greater cancer risk.
One of the most alarming risk factors is occupational exposure to certain chemicals or toxins. Primarily, people who work around dust, particles, or chemicals in poorly ventilated areas are at risk for certain cancers and diseases including:
Several studies have identified workers in certain industries that are more likely to be at risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma due to occupational exposure. These workers are:
Workers who have a history of autoimmune disorders, certain viruses, or other chronic disease are even more likely to develop cancer.
Do You Have a Diagnosis Of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma?
It is difficult for most people to put a finger on why they developed cancer. Some people, however, can link their diagnosis to occupational exposure, such as the occupations listed above. In these cases, it is important that workers understand that they have legal rights.
Workers who suffer exposure to hazardous substances and become ill as a result may have grounds to file a lawsuit against their employer. If the employer was negligent in providing proper safety gear, training, or a safe working environment, then the employer can be held legally liable for the workers injuries.
If you have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and work, or have worked, in mining, construction, foundry, or welding, contact AkinMears, L.L.P. Our occupational hazard lawyer can help you understand your situation and determine if you have an actionable claim. If so, we want to help. Call us toll free at 1-844-221-1454, or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation.