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Back to Oncology Diseases

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHLs) are in fact a heterogeneous group of lymphoproliferative malignancies with differing patterns of behavior and responses to treatment.


Estimated new cases and deaths from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) in the United States in 2005:

  • New cases: 56,390.
  • Deaths: 19,200.

In the United States, the incidence has increased from 6.9 per 100,000 population in 1947 to 1950 to 17.4 per 100,000 population in 1984 to 1988.


Male : female ratio is about 1.5:1.


Except for high-grade lymphoblastic and Burkitt lymphomas (the most common types of NHL seen in children and young adults), the median age at presentation for all subtypes of NHL exceeds 50+ years. Low-grade lymphomas account for 37% of NHLs in patients between the ages of 35 and 64 years at diagnosis but for only 16% of cases in those younger than age 35.

Race and ethnicity

Incidence varies by race, with whites at higher risk than blacks and Asian-Americans. Most histologies, particularly low-grade small lymphocytic and follicular lymphomas, are more common in whites than blacks. The incidence of mycosis fungoides and other peripheral T-cell lymphomas is higher in black males and lowest in white females.

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Certain endemic geographic factors appear to influence the development of NHL in specific areas:

  • Burkitt lymphoma in Africa
  • Immunoproliferative small intestinal disease (α−chain disease) is rarely encountered in individuals other than those of Mediterranean ethnic origin.
  • Human T-cell lymphotrophic virus-1 (HTLV-1)?associated T-cell lymphoma/leukemia occurs more frequently in Japan (Kyushu) and the Caribbean.
  • Peripheral T-cell lymphomas are more common in Europe and China than in North America.
  • Follicular lymphomas are more common in North America and Europe but are rare in the Caribbean, Africa, China, Japan, and the Middle East.
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