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Diffuse large B cell lymphoma – an increasingly common disorder

Common cancers
Cases of this blood cancer are rising as our population ages. By Graham Cope and Charlotte Bloodworth

Blood cancer is the fifth most common carcinoma in the UK but are the third largest cause of cancer-related death. Over 40,000 people being diagnosed with it every year, with about 250,000 people living with haematologic cancer. One in every 16 men and one in every 22 women will develop it at some point in their lives.1

There are many types, with lymphoma accounting for nearly half of all cases, with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) accounting for 42% of cases, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma for 6%.1

There are more than 30 types of NHL classified based on the type of lymphocyte involved: B lymphocytes (B cells) or T lymphocytes (T cells), and further classified by other factors, including whether it is aggressive (fast-growing) or indolent (slow growing), but one of the most aggressive is diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL)2, so called because it develops from abnormal B cells, which are larger than normal cells and spread out (diffuse) rather than grouped together when they are examined under a microscope.3 It develops when mature B-lymphocytes become abnormal, as they emerge and differentiate from the germinal centre.4

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