Many workers who endured benzene exposures are at elevated risk for developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Mechanics, plumbers, gasoline tanker truck drivers, and maritime workers are some of the people with an elevated risk of contracting non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a type of cancer that develops in white blood cells called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are part of the immune system and help fight off diseases. In non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the body produces too many abnormal lymphocytes. Tumors will often develop from these abnormal lymphocytes. The cancerous lymphocytes generally accumulate in the lymph nodes, causing them to swell. However, the cancerous lymphocytes can also spread to the tonsils, bone marrow, spleen, lymphatic vessels, adenoids, and thymus.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can either develop in B cells or T cells. Most non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma develops in B cells. B cells help fight infections by producing antibodies. Types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that begin in B cells include diffuse B-cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, mantle cell lymphoma and Burkitt lymphoma. It is less common for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma to occur in T cells. T cells kill virus-infected cells and help B cells make antibodies. Types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that develop in T cells include T-cell lymphoma and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.
What causes non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?
Occupational exposures to solvents like benzene, pesticides, and ionizing radiation have been associated with the development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.