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Supporting people with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
AbdomenArea of the body below the chest and above the groin, containing the stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder, kidneys, spleen and other organs

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AcuteA condition or symptom that begins and worsens quickly

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AggressiveOne of the two main grades of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (also known as high-grade or fast-growing)

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Allogeneic transplantWhen healthy cells or tissues are taken from a donor and used to replace a patient's diseased tissues. The donor may be a relative, usually a brother or sister. Another unrelated, but matched, person may also donate tissue

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Autologous transplant

AlopeciaThe loss of hair, most obviously from the head. Can be caused by cancer treatments such as some forms of chemotherapy and radiotherapy

Alternative therapyTherapies based on a theory of disease that differs from the classical medical science that is taught in Western medical schools; examples include homoeopathy, acupuncture, the use of herbal medicines, and chiropractic techniques (also called complementary therapy)

AnaemiaA condition that is caused by a lack of sufficient red blood cells, resulting in tiredness, shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches and irritability

AnalgesicsAlso known as painkillers, analgesics include drugs such as aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen

Ann ArborA staging system for Hodgkin's lymphoma that was designed at the University of Michigan, at Anne Arbor, and, after refinement, was adopted worldwide for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

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External links
An explanation of the Ann Arbor system

AntibodyA protein produced by the body to help fight infections. Antibodies are created by cells in the body and are designed to attach directly to specific structures carried by objects that are, usually, not from the body itself or are not normally made by the body, such as on tumour cells.

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Antibody therapy

Antibody therapyTreatment of a disease using antibodies, designed to target disease-causing cells. In cancer treatment, antibody therapy aims to either kill tumour cells without harming other cells or to help the body's own immune system attack a tumour. In NHL, an antibody therapy called MabThera (rituximab) is designed to seek out and attach to the CD20 antigen, which is most commonly found on lymphoma cells. This then causes the targeted cell to be killed.

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Anti-emeticA medication that aims to reduce sickness (nausea and vomiting)

AntigenStructures e.g. - proteins on the surface of bacteria, viruses or other infectious organisms, as well as on tumour cells or foreign cells such as from transplanted organs that are recognised by the immune system. Antigens can also be chemicals not naturally found in the body.

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Autologous transplantWhen a patient's healthy cells are taken from them prior to treatment e.g. high dose chemotherapy for treatment of Lymphoma. These cells are then given back to the patient after to re-grow their bone marrow.

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Bone marrow
Stem cells

B cellA type of white blood cell involved in fighting disease. One of the two main types of lymphocytes, B cells (or B lymphocytes) are involved in producing antibodies in response to antigens. Most non-Hodgkin's lymphomas involve the B cells

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T cell

B symptomsThree symptoms of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that are used to work out the stage of the disease. B symptoms include fevers, night sweats and unexplained weight loss. There are no A symptoms or C symptoms.

BacteriaA large group of organisms that consist of just one cell and can be seen only under a microscope. Many bacteria are capable of causing disease in humans

BiopsyA test that involves removing a small amount of tissue or a few cells for examination under a microscope

Biopsy specimenA sample of cells that has been removed from the body during a biopsy to see if a disease is present

Blood cellAny one of the three main cell types found in the blood - white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets.

Blood countRoutine test used to determine the number of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets in a person's blood. It can help doctors to work out whether a patient can safely have treatment or monitor response to treatment.

Bone marrow The soft tissue found in the middle of bones, where blood cells are made and where they mature before entering the bloodstream.

Bone marrow aspiration or biopsyThe removal of a sample of bone marrow, usually from the hip bone, using a needle.

Bone marrow transplant (BMT)Procedure in which healthy cells are taken from the bone marrow and transplanted into the patient after high-dose chemotherapy or radiotherapy has been used to destroy the patient's bone marrow. The cells restore the destroyed marrow.

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Peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (PBST, PBSCT)`

Burkitt's lymphomaA highly aggressive type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that most often occurs in younger people.

CancerA group of diseases that is characterised by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells, often forming lumps, or tumours. There are more than 100 diseases that are classified as a cancer, and the name given to a cancer depends on which organ or cell type it starts in, such as the lung or lymphatic system.

CarcinogenAny substance that can cause cancer.

CatheterA thin, flexible tube that is inserted into the body to allow fluids to be put into or removed from the body.

CellThe building blocks of all organs and tissues, including the heart, lungs, blood and skin. Cells contain the genetic code (DNA), which codes for all the different proteins in the body

Central, or 'Hickman', lineA special form of catheter that is inserted into a large vein, such as in the top of the chest, and remains there for days or a few weeks to allow doctors to give treatments and take samples without having to keep injecting patients

ChemotherapyChemotherapy literally means 'treatment with drugs', but is used mainly to mean treatment with anti-cancer or 'cytotoxic' drugs. The aim of chemotherapy in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is to damage and kill the growing lymphoma cells throughout the body

ChestArea of the body above the diaphragm and below the neck, containing the lungs and heart and other organs

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ChronicA disease or condition that lasts for, or progresses over, a long period of time

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ClinicalTo do with the examination and treatment of patients

Clinical nurse specialistA nurse who has specialised in one particular area of medicine. In a lymphoma clinic, the clinical nurse specialist is likely to be one of the main points of contact for patients

Clinical trialA research study that assess new ways of preventing, diagnosing or, most often, treating a disease. Within a clinical trial (study) patient's safety and health are the highest prority. Clinical trials for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma often compare a new treatment with a standard therapy. See Clinical trials here

Combination chemotherapyThe use of more than one chemotherapy drug at the same time during a course of treatment to improve the chances of success

Complete responseWhen all signs of the non-Hodgkin's lymphoma have disappeared and a patient may enter remission or be cured.

Computed axial tomography, or CAT, scanSee Computed tomography scan

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Computed tomography, or CT, scan

Computed tomography, or CT, scanA type of X-ray scan that produces a number of images taken at different 'layers' of the body to build up a three-dimensional picture

CureIn the treatment of diseases such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cure means when there is no sign of the disease being present in the body and enough time having passed to suggest that the chances of recurrence are extemely small

CytotoxicA word used to describe chemicals that kill cells, e.g. chemotherapy is cytotoxic.

DiaphragmThe muscle, below the lungs, that divides the chest from the abdomen and helps people to breathe. Whether or not NHL has crossed the diaphragm is one of the main points that is used in the staging process

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Diffuse large B-cell lymphomaA type of lymphoma where the lymph nodes have an abnormal arrangement of cells when viewed under the microscope. Diffuse lymphomas are more likely to be aggressive.

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Disease progressionWhen a cancer continues to grow or spread.

DNAFound in the nucleus of cells, DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. DNA consists of long chains of genetic code that is the blueprint for all proteins and, hence, life

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EfficacyThe effectiveness or ability of a treatment to produce the desired beneficial effect

Fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsyA type of biopsy in which cells are removed from a tissue, such as a swollen lymph node, through a thin needle so that they can be examined under a microscope

Follicular lymphomaA type of indolent lymphoma where abnormal follicles are seen under the microscope. Follicular lymphomas are more likely to be slow growing.

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Follicular Lymphoma International Prognostic Index (FLIPI)A five-factor analysis that helps doctors to work out how well patients with indolent NHL will respond to treatment and the likelihood of relapse.

GenesStretches of DNA that contain the 'code' for the proteins made by the body. When damaged, genes can cause disease by producing either dysfunctional proteins or proteins in too high or too low quantities

GradeOne of the main ways of characterising a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, it allows doctors to classify non-Hodgkin's lymphoma as indolent or aggressive

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GroinArea of the body below the abdomen and above the legs. It includes the sexual organs and the hips

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HaematologistA doctor who specialises in the study and treatment of diseases of the blood and bone marrow.

High dose therapy (HDT)Chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy given in higher doses than normal that is followed by a bone-marrow or peripheral stem cell transplantation

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Bone marrow transplant
Peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (PBST, PBSCT)`

Hodgkin's lymphomaA malignant disease of the lymph nodes that is characterised by painless enlargement of lymphatic tissues and the spleen. Most commonly occurring in people aged between 15 and 35 years, the symptoms include fever, weight loss, anaemia and night sweats. Also known as Hodgkin's disease

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Lymph node
Night sweats
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Immune responseThe level of activity of the immune system against a disease or foreign object

Immune systemThe system of the body that provides a defence against infection and some other types of disease, including cancer. It consists of cells that react in a general way to foreign substances or organisms that enter the body and of cells that can produce a more specific response to a foreign organism or damaged cell

ImmunosuppressionWhen the immune system is weakened and unable to fully react to foreign objects and diseases. This can be caused, for example, by organisms that attack the immune system, such as HIV, or drugs like those used after organ transplant or in chemotherapy

ImmunotherapyThe prevention or treatment of disease using agents that may modify the immune system, e.g. monoclonal antibodies.

IncidenceThe number of new cases of a disease reported in a population over a period of time, usually in 1 year. Data on the incidence of cancer are kept by regional and national cancer registries

Indolent One of the two main grades of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (also known as low-grade or slow-growing)

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Informed consentAn ethical and legal requirement that a patient agrees to a medical procedure only after all of the potential risks and benefits have been explained

InfusionPutting a fluid, usually containing a drug, into a vein via a catheter, either by using a pump or by using the force of gravity.

International Prognostic Index (IPI)Five factors that help doctors to work out how well a patient with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma will respond to treatment and the likelihood of a relapse.

External links
International Prognostic Index

Intravenous injectionUsing a syringe or catheter to put a fluid, usually containing a drug, into the veins.

LDH blood testA simple test to measure the amount of an enzyme called lactate dehydrogenase in the blood. In non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the test can give doctors an idea how (LDH) active the disease is and how far it has spread in the body.

LeukaemiaCancer of cells in the blood. This includes leucocytes, or white blood cells, and the bone marrow in which they grow and develop

Liver function testsAn array of relatively simple blood tests that measures various substances in the blood and gives an idea of how well the liver is functioning

Lumbar punctureA simple procedure for removing a small amount of the fluid that surrounds the spinal cord, usually carried out by inserting a small needle into the lower back

LymphThe fluid that flows through the lymphatic vessels, containing lymphocytes, fat and other substances

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Lymph nodeA small, bean-shaped collection of lymphocytes that lies along the course of a lymphatic vessel. Lymph nodes act like a filter, trapping waste products and infectious organisms. They are also called, incorrectly, lymph glands

Lymphatic systemPart of the body's immune system. The system includes the lymphatic vessels, through which lymph flows, the lymph nodes, and some other organs of the body, such as the spleen and thymus

Lymphatic vesselsThe vessels though which a fluid called lymph flows

LymphocyteA type of white blood cell involved in fighting infection and disease. There are two types of lymphocytes - B cells and T cells - and both are involved in the body's immune system

LymphomaCancer of the cells of the lymphatic system that includes Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

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Hodgkin's lymphoma
Lymphatic system
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanA way of taking very clear images of tissues in the body using strong magnetic fields. MRI can show a cross-sectional slice of the body (like a CT scan) and lengthwise slices as well. It can show the brain, spinal cord, joints and abdomen clearly. MRI scans usually take around 40 minutes. Some people find them claustrophobic but patients are always in voice contact with the radiographer.

Maintenance therapyTherapy for patients who are in remission, in which medicine is given over a relatively long period of time, to try and extend the remission for as long as possible.

Malignant tumourA growth that is cancer, e.g. a malignant tumour (malignant tumours may spread to other parts of the body).

MALT (mucosa associated lymphoma tissue) non-Hodgkin's lymphomaA type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that affects certain organs, predominantly the stomach, but the salivary glands, the thyroid and the lungs can also be affected

Mantle cell lymphoma A relatively rare but aggressive type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that involves B cells

Median survivalThe average length of time after either diagnosis or treatment at which half of the patients with a particular disease are still alive

Mediastinum An area in the chest that contains the heart, the windpipe, many large blood and lymph vessels and other structures. The mediastinum is located between the lungs and between the breastbone and spine.

Minimal residual diseaseWhen very few cancer cells remain behind in the body after attempts have been made to remove or treat the disease. They are difficult to detect with standard diagnostic equipment

Monoclonal antibodyA single pure type of antibody. They can be used in the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In this case, the monoclonal antibody is designed to recognise a specific target on the surface of the cancer cells. It then 'locks' onto this protein on the cell surface, causing the cell to be destroyed

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MorbidityThe number of patients affected by a particular disease, usually calculated per 100,000 people

MortalityThe number of deaths among people diagnosed with a disease over a period of time

NauseaFeeing sick or wanting to vomit. Patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma can have nausea when treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy, which can be relieved using anti-emetics

Night sweatsExcessive sweating during the night. Although they can be caused by other conditions, night sweats are one of the 'B symptoms' in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

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B symptoms

Non-Hodgkin's lymphomaA cancer of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is one of the two main groups of lymphoma (the other being Hodgkin's lymphoma). There are many forms of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the majority of which involve B cells. It is also sometimes referred to as non-hodgkins lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and abbreviated as NHL

Nutritional supplementsVitamins and minerals that can help the normal functioning of the body. They are usually unnecessary if the patient stays on a well-balanced diet

OncologistA doctor who specialises in the study and treatment of cancer

PalliativeTreatment that aims to reduce a patient's symptoms, rather than to cure the disease they are suffering from

Partial remissionThe shrinking, but not complete disappearance, of swollen lymph nodes in response to therapy. Also called partial response

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Lymph node

PathologistA person who analyses tissue samples in the laboratory.

Peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (PBST, PBSCT)A form of transplantation in which the stem cells are collected from the blood after 'mobilisation' from the bone marrow, followed by high-dose chemotherapy and reinfusion of the stored stem cells (also known as the transplant). This procedure has largely replaced bone marrow transplant. PBSCT can be allogeneic or autologous

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Allogeneic transplant
Autologous transplant
Bone marrow transplant
High dose therapy

PlaceboA pill or treatment that does not contain any active ingredient. This is given to some patients in clinical trials to allow comparison to other patients, taking the study drug to see if the study drug is effective. Clinical trials in cancer usually do not use a placebo.

PlasmaThe clear, yellowish liquid part of the blood that allows blood cells to move around the body. It contains a large number of proteins, sugar and nutrients.

PlateletA type of blood cell that plays a central role in clotting of blood (also called a thrombocyte)

Positron emission tomography (PET) scanA scan where a small amount of harmless radioactive glucose is injected into your arm. The PET machine can detect the radioactivity as it travels in the blood and lymph around your body. Lymphoma cells absorb large amounts of the glucose, so the PET scan shows where the lymphomas are located.

PrevalenceThe number of cases of a disease existing in a population at any one time. As with the incidence, data on the prevalence of cancer are kept by regional and national cancer registries

PrognosisThe likely outcome of a disease, based on, among other factors, the symptoms a patient has, how long they have been suffering from a disease and their age

ProteinA huge family of molecules that form an important building block of the human body. Antibodies are a form of protein.

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PruritusAlso known as itching, it can be a symptom of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, as well as caused by a variety of other conditions, including allergic reaction to chemotherapy or immunotherapy

Quality of lifeThe overall enjoyment of life experienced by a patient. Separate from the symptoms that a patient has, it is measured in some clinical trials to assess the impact of the disease, and its treatment, on daily living

RadioimmunotherapyA treatment in which a radioactive atom is attached to a monoclonal antibody that specifically attaches to cancer cells. The radioactivity then kills the surrounding cells

RadiotherapistA specialist cancer doctor who plans treatment with radiotherapy. This is another way that doctors sometimes treat NHL.

RadiotherapyThe treatment of disease with penetrating radiation, such as X-rays, beta-rays or gamma-rays.

Randomised clinical trialWhen chance is used to assign patients to different treatments that are being given in a clinical trial. This means that the patient groups are more likely to be similar and improves how well the results can be compared

RecurrenceThe return of a cancer, such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, after a disease-free period, or remission

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Red blood cellA type of blood cell, red blood cells contain haemoglobin, which carries oxygen around the body. They are also called erythrocytes.

Red blood cell countA test that is used to measure the number of red blood cells that a patient has in their blood

Refractory cancerCancer that no longer responds to a specific treatment. In such cases, another treatment may be used

RegimenThe combination of drugs used to treat a disease and the way in which they are given

RegressionA reduction in the symptoms experienced by a patient or a slowing of the progress of a disease

RelapseWhen signs or symptoms associated with tumour growth are seen after having a disease-free period, or remission

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RemissionA disease-free period after successful treatment, when patients no longer experience symptoms. Remission may be followed by a relapse or, ultimately, if no relapse occurs for a significant time, can be called a cure

Renal function testsSimple blood and urine tests that measure various substances and give an idea of how well the kidneys are functioning

Residual diseaseCancer cells that have remained behind in the body after attempts have been made to remove or treat the disease

ResponseThe assessment of the effect of a treatment on a disease. The types of response include complete response (CR), unconfirmed complete response (CRu), partial response (PR), stable disease (SD) and progressive disease (PD)

Side effectAn unwanted effect of a drug or medication that occurs in addition to the wanted effect of treating a disease. Examples in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma include hair loss and nausea as a result of chemotherapy

SignAny evidence of the presence of a disorder or disease detected by a medical professional but not necessarily obvious to a patient. For example, an abnormality seen on an X-ray or clinical examination

SpleenAn organ that sits in the upper abdomen, on the left-hand side, behind the stomach. It forms part of the immune system

SplenectomySurgery to remove the spleen. This is occasionally carried out if, for example, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma has spread to the spleen from the lymph nodes

Stable diseaseNon-Hodgkin's lymphoma that is neither decreasing nor increasing in severity

StageOne of the main ways of characterising a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It is a way of describing how many groups of lymph nodes are affected, whether the lymphoma is only in the lymph nodes or whether it is in other organs as well, and whether the lymphoma has crossed the diaphragm. Staging can also be used to describe the presence of certain symptoms, such as B symptoms

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B symptoms

Stem cellsImmature cells most often found in the bone marrow, but also in the blood. Stem cells have the potential to become one of several types of cells, and so can help to regenerate the immune system after disease or chemotherapy, for example

SteroidDrugs that are used to treat severe inflammation. Steroids may be used often with chemotherapy to help treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Steroids may also help prevent nausea or allergic reactions to some drugs.

Support groupA group of people who meet on a regular basis to share their experiences of a disease, such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Often organised by hospitals or survivors, they help people to come to terms with the impact of a disease on their lives

Other useful pages on
List of support groups

Survival at 1 yearThe percentage of patients who survive for 1 year after having been given a particular treatment for a disease

SymptomA sensation or change that is experienced by a patient and is associated with a disease

SystemicA systemic disease is one that can affect the whole body. Lymphoma is a systemic disease because white blood cells circulate the body in the lymphatic system, so it is not just the lymph glands that can be affected.

T cellA type of white blood cell involved in fighting infection and disease. T cells are one of the two main types of lymphocyte. Unlike B cells, they directly kill tumour cells and cells infected with a virus

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B cell

TerminalA stage of disease or condition that results in the patient having a short life expectancy

ThymusAn organ in the upper part of the chest that forms part of the immune system

Time to progressionThe length of time it takes a particular disease to increase in severity, usually after a patient has been treated

ToxicityLevel of harm caused by, in the case of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a treatment through its side effects

Treatment cycleOne complete sequence of a particular therapy, often repeated. For example, a complete course of radiotherapy may involve six cycles

TumourA lump of body tissue that is caused by cells that have reproduced themselves more quickly than they should.

Ultrasound scanAn imaging technique that uses sound waves to detect structures within the body. The findings of the sound waves are translated into a picture. The sound waves are too high for the human ear to hear.

VaccineA compound that is designed to cause a specific response by the immune system to a disease or tumour

Watch-and-waitAn approach to disease management in which no active treatment is given but patients are seen regularly in the outpatients' clinic for monitoring.

White blood cellA type of blood cell also involved in the immune system. Lymphocytes are one form of white blood cell

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White blood cell countA test that is used to measure the number of white blood cells a patient has in their blood

X-rayA test that uses radiation passed through the body to create a picture of the organs and bones inside. Can be used to detect tumours within the body


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