Lymphoma

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At Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, our highly specialized physicians and support specialists with extensive experience in lymphoma work together to develop a treatment plan specific to your needs. Our goal is to be hard on the disease, but gentle on you. We use the latest research, advanced diagnostics and effective treatments to deliver excellent lymphoma care with compassionate patient support.

What Is Lymphoma?

Lymphoma is a cancer that develops in the lymphatic system - the tissues and organs that produce, store and carry white blood cells. Lymphoma happens when white blood cells, called lymphocytes, mutate and grow out of control.

There are two types of lymphoma: Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL).

Hodgkin's lymphoma develops in white blood cells and usually contains Reed-Sternberg cells, a specific type of large cancer cell. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is divided into two types: Classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma (95% of cases) and nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (5% of cases). Most patients with Hodgkin lymphoma can be treated successfully.

All other lymphomas are non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. They develop in other parts of the lymphatic system, including the bone marrow, spleen, thymus and lymph nodes. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is divided into three types by cell: B-cell (85% of cases), T-cell (less than 15% of cases), and NK-cell. Burkitt lymphoma (B-cell) is the fastest growing human tumor and rapidly fatal if left untreated. Follicular lymphoma (B-cell) is slow-growing and, though not considered curable, patients can live for many years with it. Mantle cell lymphoma (B-cell) is aggressive and rare, occurring in the outer rim or mantle lymphoid follicle.

Leukemia and lymphoma are both forms of blood cancer. The main difference is that leukemia affects the blood and bone marrow, while lymphoma affects the lymph nodes. Some symptoms of the two cancers are similar, such as fatigue and fever. With leukemia, patients tend to bruise easily and bleed more than normal. With lymphoma, patients tend to have swollen lymph nodes and itchy skin.

Who Gets Lymphoma?

Lymphoma can occur in children, teens and adults with men slightly more likely than women to develop the disease. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is much more common than Hodgkin's lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is the sixth most common cancer in the United States, while Hodgkin's lymphoma only accounts for 1% of all cancers.

Hodgkin's lymphoma is one of the most curable types of cancer. It’s most common in early adulthood, ages 15 to 30, and again in late adulthood, after age 55. The American Cancer Society estimates 8,110 people will be diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma this year.

The prognosis for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma varies by its type and stage. It’s more common in Caucasians, with most people being diagnosed older than age 60. The American Cancer Society estimates more than 74,000 people will be diagnosed this year with the disease.

Who Treats Lymphoma Cancer?

Banner MD Anderson’s lymphoma team is made up of specialized physicians and support staff, including highly skilled nurses, physician assistants, dietitians, social workers and many others. We work together with you on all aspects of your care to give you the highest chance possible for successful treatment.

Learn More about Lymphoma

What Causes Lymphoma?

No one knows what causes lymphoma. Unlike many other cancers, environment and lifestyle don’t seem to play much of a role in its development. However, people with autoimmune deficiencies may be at higher risk.

Learn more about lymphoma causes, risk factors and prevention.

What Are the Signs, Symptoms and Types of Lymphoma?

Symptoms of both Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can often be overlooked as they mirror a cold or the flu. However, these symptoms don’t go away. If you experience symptoms of fever, fatigue, stomach pain, cough and swollen lymph nodes for more than a couple weeks, you should talk to your doctor.

Learn more about lymphoma signs, symptoms and types.

How Is Lymphoma Diagnosed?

Lymphoma is usually diagnosed using a physical exam, blood test and possibly a lymph node and/or bone marrow biopsy. To determine the spread of the cancer, doctors can use imaging tests such as ultrasounds and CT scans.

Learn more about lymphoma tests, diagnosis, prognosis and stages.

How Is Lymphoma Treated?

The most common type of treatment for lymphoma is chemotherapy, but treatments vary based on cancer type and stage, as well as the patient’s health and personal preferences. In addition, Banner MD Anderson offers numerous supportive therapies through our Integrative Oncology Program.

Learn more about lymphoma treatment, side effects and support.