Follicular Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

What is Follicular Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma?

Follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (FL) is a type of cancer that affects lymphocytes, the white blood cells involved in fighting infection. It is considered a slow-growing or indolent type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) and accounts for roughly 20 percent of all cases of NHL.

Cause of Follicular Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

The exact causes of follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are not known. However, researchers believe that the disease may be related to environmental factors, viral infection, and/or genetic factors.

Symptoms of Follicular Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma typically causes no symptoms in its early stages. As the disease progresses, however, symptoms of enlargement or pain in the affected lymph nodes may occur, causing swelling and tenderness. Other symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Itching of the skin
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Shortness of breath

Diagnosis of Follicular Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

In order to diagnose follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, doctors will perform physical exams and imaging tests such as X-rays and CT scans. These tests can be used to detect any abnormal growths or enlarged lymph nodes. Then, the doctor may order a biopsy of the affected area, which will be examined in a laboratory to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of Follicular Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Treatment options for follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma vary depending on the stage of the disease. For slow-growth or early-stage FL, doctors may opt for a “watch-and-wait” approach. If the disease progresses, chemotherapy, radiation, or targeted therapies may be used. In some cases, surgery may be used to remove lymph nodes containing cancerous cells.