Explainer: What is Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma that Jane Fonda is fighting?

Actor Jane Fonda has revealed that she has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, a type of cancer.

The 84-year-old Hollywood star shared the news on Instagram and wrote that she has already started chemotherapy treatments for it.

“So, my dear friends, I have something personal I want to share. I’ve been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and have started chemo treatments,” Fonda wrote.

“This is a very treatable cancer. 80 per cent of people survive, so I feel very lucky,” she continued. “I’m also lucky because I have health insurance and access to the best doctors and treatments. I realise, and it’s painful, that I am privileged in this.”

So what is non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (NHL)?

NHL is a type of blood cancer that impacts white blood cells called lymphocytes, which are part of the human body’s immune system.

When the lymphocytes grow abnormally they can form tumors throughout the body, according to The Mayo Clinic.

There are a variety of types of NHL, depending on how the cancer behaves and how it attacks the cells.

Common signs and symptoms of NHL include swollen lymph nodes, which present as lumps, in the neck, collarbone, armpit, groin, or other parts of the body.

Some of these swollen lymph nodes can press on organs causing chest pain, coughing or difficulty breathing.

Other symptoms include fever, unexplained weight loss, and night sweats.

Doctors can run a string of different tests for NHL, including blood tests, a lymph node biopsy, or scans such as an MRI scan, CT scan, PET scan, ultrasound or X-ray scan.

There is also a range of different treatments, depending on the kind of NHL, what stage it is at, and the symptoms.

These include “watch and wait” monitoring with treatment starting when it becomes necessary, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and drug therapies.

“Advances in diagnosis and treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma have helped improve the prognosis for people with this disease,” the Mayo Clinic states on its website.

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