Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a cancer that forms in the cells of the body’s immune system, also called the lymph system. There are two types of lymphoma: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Hodgkin Lymphoma

Hodgkin lymphoma starts in the lymph system, usually in a lymph node. The disease begins when a lymph node cell, called a lymphocyte, behaves abnormally. Unlike normal cells, abnormal cells don’t die when they get old or damaged. The abnormal lymphocyte divides, creating a replica of itself, and continues to divide, building up a collection of abnormal cells.

White blood cells collect around the abnormal cells and the affected lymph node becomes swollen. Abnormal cells may spread through the lymph vessels or blood vessels to other parts of the body. The disease may appear as a swollen lymph node in the neck, chest, or other areas.

Symptoms

Symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma can vary from person to person, but may include:

  • Painless, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin
  • Fever
  • Drenching night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Itchy skin
  • Fatigue

Diagnosis

In addition to all major cancer screening and diagnosis methods, we also offer these techniques when testing for Hodgkin lymphoma:

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC) – A sample of the your blood is taken and checked for the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets present
  • Excisional/Incisional Lymph Node Biopsy – The complete (excisional) or partial (incisional) removal of a lymph node during a biopsy allows for closer examination under a microscope.
  • Blood and Urine Immunoglobulin Study – A study using a blood or urine sample to measure antibodies
  • Blood Viscosity Test – A procedure testing the thickness of the blood
  • Flow Cytometry – A lab test measuring the number of cells in a sample and the percentage of live cells in a sample
  • Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy – A test using a small needle to remove bone marrow, blood, and a small piece of bone, which are then examined under a microscope for signs of cancer
  • Lumbar Puncture – Also known as a spinal tap, this procedure inserts a needle into the spinal column to collect a sample of cerebrospinal fluid for testing.

Treatment

Radiation and chemotherapy are treatment options for Hodgkin lymphoma. Additionally, some people with Hodgkin lymphoma receive a stem cell transplant, which allows our doctors to use higher doses of chemotherapy.

Your care team will work with you to determine your exact course of treatment. Learn more about treatment options.

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma begins when a lymph node cell, called a lymphocyte, becomes abnormal. The abnormal lymphocyte divides, creating a copy of itself, and continues to divide, building up a collection of abnormal cells. The buildup of extra cells often forms a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor. The abnormal cells don’t die when they should and fail to protect the body from infections or other diseases.

There are two types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma: slowing moving (indolent) and fast moving (aggressive).

Symptoms

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can cause many symptoms, including:

  • Painless, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin
  • Fever
  • Drenching night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Coughing, trouble breathing, or chest pain
  • Pain, swelling, or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen
  • Fatigue

Diagnosis

In addition to all major cancer screening and diagnosis methods, we also offer these techniques when testing for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma:

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC) – A sample of the your blood is taken and checked for the also measures levels of hemoglobin, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets present
  • Excisional/Incisional Lymph Node Biopsy – The complete (excisional) or partial (incisional) removal of a lymph node during a biopsy for closer examination under a microscope
  • Blood and Urine Immunoglobulin Study – A study using a blood or urine sample to measure antibodies
  • Blood Viscosity Test – A procedure to test the thickness of the blood
  • Flow Cytometry – A lab test that measures the number of cells in a sample and the percentage of live cells in a sample
  • Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy – A small needle is used to remove bone marrow, blood, and a small piece of bone, which are then examined under a microscope for signs of cancer
  • Lumbar Puncture – Also known as a spinal tap, this procedure inserts a needle into the spinal column to collect a sample of cerebrospinal fluid for testing.

Treatment

Radiation and chemotherapy are treatment options for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Other possible treatments include:

  • Watchful Waiting – Doctors sometimes suggest “watchful waiting” for people with indolent lymphoma, who may not require cancer treatment for a long time. Sometimes the tumor may even shrink for a while without therapy. By delaying treatment, they can avoid the side effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
  • Biological Therapy – People with certain types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma may be eligible for biological therapy, which uses proteins developed in a lab. The proteins are injected into a vein. They bind to cancer cells and help the immune system kill lymphoma cells.
  • Stem Cell Transplant – Some people with non-Hodgkin lymphomas receive a stem cell transplant, which allows our doctors to use higher doses of chemotherapy.

Your care team will work with you to determine your exact course of treatment. Learn more about treatment options.