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Researchers are still working to determine what causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer that occurs when abnormal lymphocytes invade the lymph nodes and travel to other parts of the lymphatic system. This condition can originate in the B cells, which produce the immune system’s antibodies, or the T cells, which are the immune system’s “fighter cells” that protect against foreign invaders. While it’s not yet clear what causes ordinary B and T cells to become lymphoma cells, researchers do know that genetic mutations are at least partially responsible when healthy cells become cancerous (a process known as carcinogenesis).

Currently, the causes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma are thought to involve:

  • Genetic mutations that cause cells to divide and reproduce more rapidly than they ordinarily should
  • Genetic mutations that allow cells to remain viable beyond the end of their normal lifespans

One such type of mutation that has been linked to the formation of non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a translocation – a mutation in which one chromosome breaks off and becomes attached to another chromosome. Different translocations have been linked to different types of lymphoma; for instance, a translocation from chromosome 14 to chromosome 18 can activate a gene that promotes unnatural cellular survival, in turn causing follicular lymphoma.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we have a renowned team of researchers whose commitment to discovering the biological pathways of lymphoma development has allowed us to make great strides in diagnosing and treating the condition. We have been named a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute in recognition of these and other research initiatives, each of which brings us one step closer to an eventual cure for lymphoma.

Referrals are not required to discuss non-Hodgkin lymphoma causes with the experienced hematologists and oncologists at Moffitt Cancer Center. To request an appointment, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online.