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What is Lymphoma?

Lymphoma is...

  • blood cancer affecting white blood cells
  • develops in the lymphatic system

lymphatic system diagramLymphoma is a general term for cancer of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of the body's immune system, made up of a complex network of lymph organs including: bone marrow, the thymus and the spleen.

The lymphatic system is filled with fluid called lymph, which carries nutrients, waste and white blood cells (lymphocytes) around the body. When lymphocytes develop abnormally or fail to die when instructed to, they can collect in the lymph nodes and form tumours. 

There are many different sub-types of lymphoma, which are divided into two main types: Hodgkin lymphoma (Hodgkin disease) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Hodgkin Lymphoma

Hodgkin lymphoma is a rare form of lymphoma characterised by a particular abnormal tumour cell - Reed Sternberg - not present in other forms of lymphoma. Over 62,000 people worldwide are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma each year, of those 38,000 (60%) are male and 24,000 (40%) are female. Approximately 25,000 people worldwide die each year from the disease (1).

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL)

Any lymphoma that is not Hodgkin lymphoma is classified as non-Hodgkin lymphoma. There are more than 30 different subtypes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which are generally classified into two equal groups, depending on the rate at which the tumour is growing

Indolent

Low Grade 
  • Tumour cells divide and multiply slowly making initial diagnosis difficult. Patients may live many years with the disease, yet standard treatment cannot cure the disease in its advanced stages.

Aggressive

Intermiediate/High Grade 
  • Tumour cells divide and multiply rapidly in the body and, if left untreated, can be fatal within six months to two years. Unlike indolent NHL, treatment of aggressive NHL can lead to patients being cured.

From The DVD - "Your Journey Of Lymphoma Treatments"

Related video : What is Lymphoma?