Eric Berry’s Suspected Lymphoma ‘New Opponent’

Kansas City Chiefs’ Eric Berry is officially out for the season due to suspected lymphoma that has manifested itself as a mass in the right side of his chest. While the suspected diagnosis is serious, Berry remains thankful to his fan base and teammates despite an uncertain future.

“I am truly thankful for all the support from family, friends, coaches, teammates and the entire Chiefs’ kingdom. At first I was in shock with the diagnosis on Saturday and did not even want to miss a game, but I understand now that I have a new opponent. I have great confidence in the doctors and the plan they are going to put in place for me to win this fight. I believe that I am in God’s hands and I have great peace in that. I am so thankful and appreciative of being part of this franchise and playing in front of the best fans in the NFL. I will be back!”

Berry, 25 years old, had checked out fine at his pre-season physical but the popular safety complained of chest pain on Thursday night following a game against the Oakland Raiders. On Friday, he underwent testing that revealed the mass. While his type of lymphoma remains unknown, there are two major forms of the cancer that arises in the immune system and many subtypes. Lymphoma develops in the lymph nodes in the lymphatic system. Ninety percent of lymphoma is classified as Non-Hodgkin’s, and ten percent are classified as Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

The treatment for Lymphoma varies by type and disease progression, but chemotherapy, radiation and surgery are often indicated. Five year survival rates for Lymphoma ranges from 66 percent to 85 percent when aggressively and appropriately treated. Although Berry has no known risk factors for the disease, Lymphoma in general is on the rise in the United States. The incidence of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma has nearly doubled since 1970, which is not a typical increase for all other cancers. The reasons for this are unclear, although carcinogens like Agent Orange has been indicated in many cases of Lymphoma in Vietnam veterans, and it is more likely to occur in those who already have an auto-immune disorder such a Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis. Genetic predisposition plays a role, as does increasing age when evaluating risk in individuals. In Berry’s case, Chiefs’ owner Clark Hunt said the team plans to organize multiple ways to support Berry.

Long-term effects of lymphoma treatment vary and it is difficult to predict if — or when — Eric Berry will be able to return to the field.

[Image via Michael D. Wright]