Lymphoma is cancer that begins in infection-fighting cells of the immune system, called lymphocytes. These cells are in the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, bone marrow, and other parts of the body. When you have lymphoma, lymphocytes change and grow out of control.
There are two main types of lymphoma:
Non-Hodgkin: Most people with lymphoma have this type.
Non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin lymphoma involve different types of lymphocyte cells. Every type of lymphoma grows at a different rate and responds differently to treatment.
Lymphoma is very treatable, and the outlook can vary depending on the type of lymphoma and its stage. Your doctor can help you find the right treatment for your type and stage of the illness.
Lymphoma is different from leukemia. Each of these cancers starts in a different type of cell.
Lymphoma starts in infection-fighting lymphocytes.
Leukemia starts in blood-forming cells inside bone marrow.
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Lymphoma is also not the same as lymphedema, which is a collection of fluid that forms in body tissues when there is damage or blockage to the lymph system.
Scientists don’t know what causes lymphoma in most cases.
You might be more at risk if you:
Are in your 60s or older for non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Are between 15 and 40 or older than 55 for Hodgkin lymphoma
Are male, although certain subtypes may be more common in females
Have a weak immune system from HIV/AIDS, an organ transplant, or because you were born with an immune disease
Have an immune system disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, lupus, or celiac disease
Have been infected with a virus such as Epstein-Barr, hepatitis C, or human T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (HTLV-1)
Have a close relative who had lymphoma
Were exposed to benzene or chemicals that kill bugs and weeds
Were treated for Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the past
Were treated for cancer with radiation
Warning signs of lymphoma include:
Swollen glands (lymph nodes), often in the neck, armpit, or groin that are painless
Shortness of breath
Many of these symptoms can also be warning signs of other illnesses. See your doctor to find out for sure if you have lymphoma.