Non-Hodgkin’s Diagnosed for Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen

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Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma more than a quarter century after he received treatment for Hodgkin’s disease. News of Allen’s diagnosis was revealed in a memo issued by Jody Allen, Paul’s sister, to Vulcan employees and later posted on CNET’s news website. Paul Allen founded Vulcan Inc. in 1986 to manage his business and charitable endeavors.

According to the American Cancer Society, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (also known as non-Hodgkin lymphoma or just lymphoma) is a cancer that starts in the lymphocytes, cells that reside in the lymph nodes and other lymphoid tissues and are thus part of the body’s immune system. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can be fast- or slow-growing, and can involve either B-cells or T-cells. B-cell lymphomas make up about 85 percent of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cases in the United States. The National Cancer Institute reports an estimated 65,980 new cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the United States in 2009, and approximately 19,500 deaths.

Paul Allen has been diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, which is one of the more common types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosed in the United States and accounts for about 33 percent of cases. Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma typically occurs in people in their mid-sixties and usually begins as a rapidly growing mass in an internal lymph node.

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Although diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is a fast-growing cancer, it often responds well to chemotherapy. The American Cancer Society notes that 75 percent of people have no signs of disease after initial treatment, and about half of all people who have this cancer are cured with therapy. Allen has already begun chemotherapy treatments, and according to the company memo, he plans to continue his role at Vulcan.

Paul Allen was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma (also known as Hodgkin lymphoma) more than 25 years ago, a type of cancer that differs from the non-Hodgkin’s form in how it behaves, spreads, and responds to treatment. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is also a much less common form of the cancer. The National Cancer Institute reports an estimated 8,510 new cases in the United States in 2009.

Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in the 1970s and left the company in 1983, the year he underwent treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In addition to Vulcan Inc., Allen owns the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers. He also founded and is chairman of the board of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, a philanthropic organization.

SOURCES:
American Cancer Society
CNET news, Nov. 16, 2009
National Cancer Society
Paul G. Allen Family Foundation

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