This section is for patients and family members who want to learn more about lymphoma. Answers to several commonly asked questions about lymphoma appear below.
The term lymphoma comprises a group of blood cancers that develop in the lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s immune system. The two main types of lymphoma are Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).
NHL is a cancer that arises from lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. NHL can start in one of three major types of white blood cells: B-cells, T-cells or natural killer cells. Within NHL, there are over 30 subtypes of the disease that are classified either as indolent (slow-growing) or aggressive (fast-growing) types and each sub-type of disease affects the body differently. They are grouped as non-Hodgkin lymphomas due to their lack of a certain type of cell known as Reed-Sternberg cells, and originate in the lymph nodes and lymphatic tissues.
Hodgkin lymphoma is characterized by the presence of a type of lymphocyte called the Reed-Sternberg cell found in a patient’s lymph nodes, spleen, liver and bone marrow, and is one of the most curable forms of cancer.
As NHL and Hodgkin lymphoma progress, the immune system’s ability to fight infections is compromised and can impact the production of other blood cells, such as red blood cells.
The specific causes of Hodgkin lymphoma and NHL are generally not well understood.
Symptoms of lymphoma include:
NHL is the sixth most common cancer in males and the seventh most common in females in the U.S. 560,000 people are estimated to be living with or in remission from NHL. It is estimated that 70,800 new cases of NHL will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2014.
Hodgkin lymphoma represents approximately 12% of all types of lymphomas diagnosed and accounts for slightly less than 1% of cancers worldwide. An estimated 9,200 new cases of Hodgkin lymphoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2014.
You and your healthcare team will decide on the course of therapy that is right for you — and it may include the use of a single form of therapy or a combination of therapies.
The following are a few of the more common therapies for NHL, and the therapeutic approach will vary based on the subtype:
The following are a few of the more common therapies for Hodgkin lymphoma:
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) (1-800-955-4572) is one of the many non-profit cancer advocacy groups that can provide you with more information about lymphoma.
The LLS website provides information about the disease, treatment options, and clinical trials. In addition, you can find information about the Acetylon clinical trials, get a general overview of the LLS Therapy Acceleration Program (TAP), and subscribe to the LLS monthly Email newsletter, Lymphoma Links.
The following organization also provides information about lymphoma:
For information about cancer, please visit the following cancer organizations: