What is Lymphoma
Lymphoma is cancer that begins in cells of the lymph system. The lymph system is part of the immune system, which helps the body fight infection and disease. Because lymph tissue is found all through the body, lymphoma can begin almost anywhere.
The two main types of lymphoma are Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). These can occur in both children and adults.
Most people with Hodgkin lymphoma have the classic type. With this type, there are large, abnormal lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) in the lymph nodes called Reed-Sternberg cells. Hodgkin lymphoma can usually be cured.
There are many different types of NHL that form from different types of white blood cells (B-cells, T-cells, NK cells). Most types of NHL form from B-cells. NHL may be indolent (slow-growing) or aggressive (fast-growing). The most common types of NHL in adults are diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, which is usually aggressive, and follicular lymphoma, which is usually indolent.
Mycosis fungoides and the Sézary syndrome are types of NHL that start in white blood cells in the skin. Primary central nervous system lymphoma is a rare type of NHL that starts in white blood cells in the brain, spinal cord, or eye.
The treatment and the chance of a cure depend on the stage and the type of lymphoma
A Snapshot of Lymphoma
Lymphoma, including Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), is the most common blood cancer in the United States and is estimated to represent approximately 5 percent of all new cancers diagnosed in the United States in 2014. Nearly 71,000 new cases of NHL and nearly 9,200 new cases of Hodgkin lymphoma are estimated for 2014.
Because of improvements in treatment, the mortality rate for Hodgkin lymphoma has decreased by nearly 70 percent since 1975, even though the incidence rate has remained relatively steady over the same period. Incidence rates for Hodgkin lymphoma are highest for whites and African Americans; mortality rates are highest for whites, Hispanics, and African Americans.
NHL incidence has been increasing since 1975, although the rate of increase has slowed in the past two decades. NHL mortality has declined since 1997. Incidence and mortality for NHL are higher for whites than for African Americans or other racial/ethnic groups in the United States.
Risk factors for both Hodgkin lymphoma and NHL include being male, having a weakened immune system, or being infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or Epstein-Barr virus. Infection with Helicobacter pylori or human T-cell leukemia/lymphoma virus type 1 (HTLV-1) increases the risk for certain types of NHL. The risk of NHL increases with age, whereas the risk of Hodgkin lymphoma is higher in both early adulthood and later life. Standard treatments for both types of lymphoma are chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell transplant. Additional standard therapies include surgery for Hodgkin lymphoma and targeted therapy, plasmapheresis, watchful waiting and biological therapy for NHL.
Assuming that incidence and survival rates follow recent trends, it is estimated that $13.4 billion1 will be spent on lymphoma care in the United States in 2014.