Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft, passed away yesterday from complications related to non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Allen, who had struggled with this disease on-and-off since the 1980s, recently revealed that his cancer had returned. It was a disease that he had battled several times throughout his life, including when he was working on Microsoft.
According to Cancer.org, non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer that begins in the white blood cells, which are part of the body’s immune system. There are many types of lymphoma that share some of the same characteristics, and it’s uncertain what kind Allen was battling.
However, this kind of cancer often affects adults and it commonly starts in the lymph nodes. Cancer.org reveals that it can also start in any area of the body where lymph tissue can be found, including the spleen, bone marrow, thymus, adenoids and tonsils, and the digestive tract.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma attacks the immune system, making the body weaker in battling off other diseases, viruses, and infections.
There are two types of treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, depending on what kind of lymphoma you have. Lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, can be labeled B cells and T cells. B-cell lymphomas are the most common of the two, and these cells help the body fight off germs and viruses by creating antibodies out of proteins.
T-cells destroy germs or abnormal cells in the body. Paul Allen hasn’t revealed what kind of lymphoma he was fighting, but did reveal hat he had started treatment for the disease. He also revealed it was the same kind of lymphoma that he was treated for back in 2009. At that time, he had received chemotherapy.
Cancer cells can be categorized based on how fast they grow. Indolent lymphomas grow and spread slowly, while aggressive lymphomas are vicious, spreading fast and needing treatment immediately. However, there are some types of lymphoma that don’t fit into either, such as mantle cell lymphoma. It’s a tricky disease to diagnose as doctors need to analyze each case to figure out how the cells look under a microscope before assigning the cancer cells to a specific type and suggesting treatment.
It was only a few weeks ago that Paul Allen announced that his cancer had returned and he planned on fighting it aggressively. He also revealed he was optimistic, saying that a lot had happened in the world of medicine since he last battled the disease.