Lymphoma is the name for a group of blood cancers that originates in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of the body’s immune system and it’s defense against infection.
Lymphoma begins with a change to a lymphocyte, which causes it to become a lymphoma cell. These lymphoma cells multiply and become masses in the lymph nodes, causing an enlargement of the nodes.
The two main types of lymphoma are Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas (NHL).
In Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cells in the lymphatic system grow abnormally and may spread beyond the lymphatic system. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is marked by the presence of a type of large malignant cells called Reed-Sternberg cells.
The two major types of Hodgkin lymphoma are classical Hodgkin lymphoma and nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma. As Hodgkin’s lymphoma progresses, it compromises the body’s ability to fight infection.
Symptoms include the painless enlargement of lymph nodes, spleen, or other immune tissue. Other symptoms include fever, weight loss, fatigue, or night sweats. Advances in the diagnosis and treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma have helped to make this once uniformly fatal disease highly treatable, with the potential for full recovery.
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL)
Non-Hodgkins lymphoma is much more common than Hodgkin’s disease. It represents a diverse group of diseases that are distinguished by the characteristics of the cancer cells associated with each disease type.
These types can be divided into fast-growing and slow-growing, and can be formed from either B-cells or T-cells.
The most common symptoms are one or more enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin. Other symptoms can include swollen lymph nodes, fever night sweats, feeling tired, loss of appetite, weight loss, and rash. Prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and type of disease.