Jackie O, Joey Ramone, Wendy Wasserstein, Roger Maris & Charles Lindbergh…

… all died of lymphoma. So did approximately 56 Americans – yesterday. And 56 Americans today. And 56 Americans next Wednesday. And on Christmas. And your birthday. To add up to around 20,500 Americans dying of Hodgkin’s Disease and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2008. But what is lymphoma?

From The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society:

Lymphoma is a general term for a group of cancers that originate in the lymphatic system. About 53 percent of the blood cancers that occur each year are lymphoma.

The lymphomas are divided into two major categories: Hodgkin lymphoma and all other lymphomas, called non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

Hodgkin lymphoma was named for Thomas Hodgkin, an English physician who described several cases of the disease in 1832. Hodgkin lymphoma will represent about 11.1 percent of all lymphomas diagnosed in 2008.

About 74,340 Americans will be diagnosed with lymphoma in 2008. This figure includes approximately 8,220 new cases of Hodgkin lymphoma (4,400 males and 3,820 females), and 66,120 new cases of NHL (35,450 males and 30,670 females).

Lymphoma results when a lymphocyte (a type of white blood cell) undergoes a malignant change and begins to multiply, eventually crowding out healthy cells and creating tumors that enlarge the lymph nodes or other parts of the immune system.

Lymphoma generally starts in lymph nodes or collections of lymphatic tissue in organs like the stomach or intestines. It may involve the marrow and the blood in some cases. Lymphoma may spread from one site to other parts of the body. Lymphocytic leukemias originate and are most prominent in the marrow and spill over into the blood. They occasionally spread to involve the lymph nodes.

(Adapted from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s website, with slight edits.)

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One Response to “Jackie O, Joey Ramone, Wendy Wasserstein, Roger Maris & Charles Lindbergh…”

  1. jennytnt Says:

    After posting this yesterday, last night I had a very vivid dream that I was diagnosed with Lymphoma. It was terrifying, and I felt awful. I was very thankful when I woke up this morning.

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