About Lymphoma

Definitions

This page will define common words or acronyms (words shortened to a few letters like PICC, ABVD, NHL etc), so you can feel more confident communicating with your healthcare teams, friends and family about your journey with lymphoma or CLL. 

As you go through, you will see some definitions have words in blue and underlined. If you click on these, you will be able to find more information on those topics. Links to treatment protocols have been included, but if you find your treatment is not listed, please contact us. Alternatively, you can check if you protocol is covered on the eviQ anticancer treatment page.

A

Abdomen – the middle part of the front of your body, between your chest and pelvis (the bones around your hip area), often called the tummy.

ABVD – a treatment protocol. For more details, see:

Acute – an illness or symptom that develops quickly but only lasts a short time.

Adjuvant therapy -another treatment given to boost the effectiveness of the main therapy.

Advanced stage – widespread lymphoma – usually stage 3 (lymphoma on both sides of your diaphragm) or stage 4 (lymphoma that has spread to body organs outside your lymphatic system). The lymphatic system is all over the body, so it is common to to have advanced lymphoma when first diagnosed. Many people with advanced lymphoma can be cured.

Aetiology (“EE-tee-oh-luh-jee”) – the cause of disease 

Aggressive – a term used to describe a fast-growing lymphoma. Many aggressive lymphomas respond well to treatment and many people with aggressive lymphoma can be cured.

AIDS – acquired immune deficiency syndrome. The illness caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) where your immune system is unable to fight infection.

AIDS-defining cancer – if you have HIV and develop certain cancers, you are also diagnosed with AIDS.

AITL – a type of T-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma called Angioimmunoblastic T-cell Lymphoma.

ALCL – a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma called Anaplastic Large Cell lymphoma. It can be systemic (anywhere in your body) or cutaneous (affecting mostly your skin). There is also a rare subtype called breast implant associated ALCL affecting people who have had breast implants.

Alert card – a card with important information for anyone treating you in an emergency. If you have an alert card for any reason, you should always carry it with you.

Alkylating agents – a type of chemotherapy or other medicine that stops the growth of cells, often used to treat cancers. Examples are chlorambucil and cyclophosphamide.

Allo – see allogenieic.

Allogeneic (“ALLO-jen-AY-ik”) – describes a transplant of donated tissue from someone else, sometimes known as an ‘allograft’ or ‘donor transplant’. An example is allogeneic stem cell transplant.

Alopecia – the medical term when your hair fall out. Can happen as side-effect of chemotherapy.

Anaemia – low levels of haemoglobin (Hb) in your blood (contained on red blood cells). Haemoglobin carries oxygen around your body.

Anaesthetic – a medication given to numb a part of your body (local anaesthetic) or to put your whole body to sleep (general anaesthetic).

Analgesic – something (such as a medication) that takes away or reduces pain.

Anorexia – when you don’t feel like eating – you lose your appetite, especially as a result of disease or its treatments. This is different to anorexia nervosa, which is a psychological eating disorder.

Anthracyclines – chemotherapy medications that interfere with the DNA structure of cells, preventing them from making more cells. Examples are doxorubicin (Adriamycin®) and mitoxantrone.

Antibody – a protein made by mature B-cells (called Plasma cells) that recognise and stick to things that don’t belong in your body, such as viruses, bacteria or some cancer cells. It then alerts your other immune cells that they need to come and fight. Antibodies are also called immunoglobulins (Ig).

Antibody–drug conjugate – a treatment using a monoclonal antibody joined to a chemotherapy that can deliver the chemotherapy directly to the target lymphoma cell.

Antiemetic (“AN-tee-em-ET-ik”) – medicine that can help stop you feeling sick and vomiting (being sick).

Antigen – the part of a ‘foreign’ substance that is recognised by the immune system. This then triggers your immune system to produce antibodies to fight the foreign substances (such as a virus, bacteria, or other disease).

Antimetabolites – a group of chemotherapy drugs that join with the cell’s DNA and stop it from dividing; examples include methotrexate, fluorouracil, fludarabine and gemcitabine.

Apheresis – a procedure that seperates specific cells from your blood. A special piece of equipment separates out one particular part of your blood (for example plasma, the liquid part of our blood, or cells such as stem cells) and returns the rest of the blood to you.

Apoptosis – a normal process where old or damaged cells die off to make room for new healthy cells. In some cases it can be triggered by chemotherapy drugs and irradiation.

APS – a service available at some hospitals to help manage pain that is severe, but expected to be short-term.

Aspirate – sample of cells taken by suction using a needle.

ATLL – a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma called Adult T-cell leukeamia-lymphoma. It can be referred to as: Acute, Lymphomatous, Chronic or Smouldering.

Auto – See Autologous.

Autologous (“aw-TAW-luh-GUS”) – a transplant using your own tissue (such as of bone marrow or stem cells).

B

BBB – see blood brain barrier.

B-cells / B lymphocytes – a type of white blood cell (an immune cell) that fights infection by producing antibodies.

B symptoms – three significant symptoms of lymphoma – fevers, night sweats and unexplained weight loss – that can occur in people with lymphoma.

Bacteria – small (microscopic) organisms, that can cause disease; often referred to as ‘germs’. There are also good bacteria, that keep you healthy.

BEACOPP – a treatment protocol, also sometimes called escalated BEACOPP. For more information please the protocol here.

Benign – not cancerous (although benign lumps or conditions can still cause problems if they are big or are somewhere that affects how your body works (such as in your brain).

Biological therapies – anti-cancer treatments that are based on substances that the body makes naturally and affect how the cancer cell works; examples are interferon and monoclonal antibodies.

Biopsy – a sample of tissue or cells collected  and checked under a microscope to see if abnormal cells are there. This can be done to confirm your diagnosis. For people with lymphoma, the most common biopsy is a lymph node biopsy (looking at the cells under the microscope to see what type of lymphoma it is).

Biosimilar – a  medication designed to be almost identical to a medication that is already being used (the ‘reference drug’). Biosimilars must be as safe and effective, but no better than, the reference drug in clinical trials before they are approved for use.

BL – a type of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma called Burkitt lymphoma – Can be:

  • Endemic (affecting mostly those with African background).
  • Sporadic (affecting mostly those with non-African background).
  • Immunodeficiency-associated (affecting mostly those with HIV/AIDS or other immunodeficiency).

Blast cell – an immature blood cell, in your bone marrow. Not normally found in your blood.

Blind or blinding – when people taking part in a clinical trial don’t know what treatment they are getting. Sometimes, your doctor doesn’t know either – this is called a ‘double-blind’ trial. This is done because knowing what treatment you are on could influence your, or your doctor’s expectations of the treatment and affect the results of the trial.

Blood–brain barrier – a barrier of cells and blood vessels that only let certain substances reach the brain, protecting it from harmful chemicals and infections.

Blood cells – the three main types of cells or cell fragments present in the blood are red cells, white cells and platelets.

Blood count – a sample of blood is taken and the numbers of different cells or proteins present in the blood sample are checked using a microscope and compared with the ‘normal amount’ of those cells or proteins numbers found in healthy blood.

BMT – a treatment where healthy bone marrow cells are collected from a donor (a person other than you), are given to you to replace your cancerous lymphoma cells, after you have high dose chemotherapy.

Bone marrow – the spongy tissue in the centre of some of the large bones of the body where blood cells are made.

Broviac® line A type of tunneled central line (thin flexible tube) sometimes used in children. For more details on tunneled central lines please see the eviQ patient information here.

C

Cancer cells – abnormal cells that grow and multiply quickly, and do not die when they should.

Candida (“CAN-dih-dah”) -a fungus that can cause an infection (thrush), especially in people who have a weakened immune system.

Cannula (“CAN-ewe-lah”) – a soft flexible tube which is inserted into your vein with a needle, so your medicine can be given straight into your blood stream (the needle is removed and you will only have a plastic catheter left in).

CAR T-cell therapy – treatment that uses your own, genetically modified T-cells to recognise and kill lymphoma cells. For more information on CAR T-cell therapy please see our page on Understanding CAR T-cell therapy.

Carcinogenic (“CAR-sin-o-jen-ik”) – something that can cause cancer.

Cardiovascular – to do with your heart and blood vessels.

Catheter – a flexible, hollow tube that can be inserted into an organ so that fluids or gases can be removed from, or given into, the body.

CBCL – a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma called Cutaneous B-cell Lymphoma – Sub-types of CBCL include:

  • Primary cutaneous follicle cell lymphoma.
  • Primary cutaneous marginal zone B-cell lymphoma.
  • Primary cutaneous diffuse large B-cell lymphoma – Leg type.
  • Primary cutaneous diffuse large B-cell.

CDCluster of differentiation (may be CD20, CD30 CD15 or various other numbers). See cell surface markers.

Cell – the microscopic building block of the body; all our organs are made up of cells and although they have the same basic structure, they are specially adapted to form each part of the body.

Cell signal blockers – cells receive signals that keep them alive and make them divide. These signals are sent along one or more pathways. Cell signal blockers are newer medications that block either the signal or a key part of the pathway. This can make cells die or stop them from growing.

Cell surface markers – proteins found on the surface of cells that can be used to identify particular cell types. They are labelled using letters and numbers (for example CD4, CD20, in which the ‘CD’ stands for ‘cluster of differentiation’)

Central line – a thin flexible tube, which is inserted into a large vein in the chest; some types can be left in place for some months, which allows all treatments to be given and all blood tests to be taken through the one line.

Central nervous system (CNS) – the brain and spinal cord.

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) – fluid surrounding the tissues of the central nervous system.

Chemotherapy (“KEE-moh-ther-uh-pee”) – a type of anti-cancer medication that damages and kills fast growing cells. Sometimes it is shortened to “chemo”.

Chemo-immunotherapy – chemotherapy (for example, CHOP) with immunotherapy (for example, rituximab). The initial of the immunotherapy drug is usually added to the abbreviation for the chemotherapy regimen, such as R-CHOP.

cHL – classical Hodgkin Lymphoma – Subtypes of cHL include:

  • Nodular Sclerosis cHL.
  • Mixed cellularity cHL.
  • Lymphocyte depleted cHL.
  • Lymphocyte rich cHL.

CHOEP (14 or 21) – a treatment protocol. For more details, please see the below: 

Chromosome – a small ‘package’ found in the centre (nucleus) of every cell in the body that contains a set of genes (DNA codes). They occur in pairs, one from your mother and one from your father. People normally have 46 chromosomes, arranged in 23 pairs.

Chronic – a condition, either mild or severe, that lasts for a long time.

ChIVPP – a treatment protocol. For more details please see the protocol here.

CHOP (14 or 21) – a treatment protocol.  For more details please see the below protocols: 

Classification – the grouping of similar types of cancer together, based on how they look under the microscope and after doing specialised tests.

Clinical nurse specialist (CNS) – your CNS will usually be the first person you should contact about any worries or concerns. A nurse who has specialised in looking after people with lymphoma. They can help you understand more about you lymphoma and its treatment.

Clinical trial – a research study testing new treatments to find out which one work best and for which people. For example, researchers might test effects of a new treatment or aspect of care against what is usually done, to see which one is most effrective. Not all research studies involves treatment. Some might focus on improving tests or the quality of your life. For more information on clinical trials, please see our understanding clinical trials page here.

CLL – Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is very similar to small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL), but the cancerous cells are found mostly in the bone marrow and blood instead of the lymphatic system.

CMV – short for ‘cytomegalovirus’. A virus that is more likely to cause infections in people with a weakened immune system. 

Combination chemotherapy – treatment with more than one chemotherapy drug.

CODOX-M – a treatment protocol. For more details please see the protocol here.

Combined modality therapy (CMT) – using both chemotherapy and radiotherapy in a single course of anti-lymphoma treatment.

Complete response – there is no evidence of lymphoma left after treatment.

CTCL – a type of Peripheral T-cell Lymphoma called Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma.

Early stage CTCL sub-types include:

  • Mycosis Fungoides (MF).
  • Primary cutaneous anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (PCALCL).
  • Lymphomatoid papulosis (LyP).
  • Subcutaneous panniculitis-like T-cell lymphoma (SPTCL).

Advanced stage subtypes include:

  • Sezary Syndrome (SS).
  • Primary Cutaneous Anaplastic Large-cell Lymphoma (PCALCL).
  • Subcutaneous Panniculitis-like T-cell Lymphoma (SPTCL).

CT scan – computed tomography. A scan performed in an X-ray department that provides a layered picture of the inside of the body; can be used to detect disease of a tissue or organ.

Cure – treating a disease or condition to the point where it has gone and will not come back in the future.

Cutaneous (“queue-TAY-nee-us”) – to do with your skin.

CVID – Common Variable ImmunoDeficiency – a condition that can affect you bodies ability to develop any type of antibodies (immunoglobulins).

CVP or R-CVP or O-CVP-  treatment protocols. For more details click on the links below:

Cycle – a block of chemotherapy (or other treatment) that is followed by a rest period to allow the healthy normal cells to recover.

Cyto- to do with cells.

Cytogenetics – the study and testing of the chromosomes in cells that are involved in your disease. It helps to identify lymphoma sub-types and, reach an accurate diagnosis to help determine the best treatment for you.

Cytokine release syndrome (CRS) – an immune reaction to some types of immunotherapy that causes a rapid release of chemicals called cytokines into your bloodstream. It can cause severe inflammation in your body

Cytotoxic medications (“sigh-toe-TOX-ik”) – medications that are toxic (poisonous) to cells. These are given to destroy or control cancer cells.

D

DA-R-EPOCH – a treatment protocol – For more details please see the treatment protocol here.

Day-care unita part of the hospital for people who need a specialist procedure but who do not need to stay in hospital overnight.

Day patient or outpatienta patient who attends hospital (for example, for treatment) but doesn’t stay overnight.

DDGP – A treatment protocol. For more details, please see the protocol here.

DHAC or DHAP- Treatment protocols. For more details please see the protocols here:

Diagnosis – finding out what condition or disease you have.

Diaphragm (“DYE-a-fram”) – a dome-shaped muscle that separates your tummy (abdomen) from you chest (thoracic) cavity. It also helps you breath, by helping your lungs move in and out.

Disease-free survival – the percentage of people who are alive and free of lymphoma after a certain number of years. 

Disease progression or progression – when your lymphoma continues to grow. This is usually defined as growth of more than a fifth (more than 20%) while you are having treatment. 

DLBCL – a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma called Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma – May be referred to as either germinal centre DLBCL (GCB or GCB DLBCL) or activated B-cell DLBCL (ABC or ABC DLBCL).

DNAdeoxyribonucleic acid. A complex molecule that holds genetic information as a chemical code, which forms part of the chromosome in the nucleus of all the cells of the body.

Double-hit lymphomawhen lymphoma cells have two major lymphoma-related changes in their genes. Usually classed as a type of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL).

DRC – a treatment protocol. For more details, please see the protocol here.

E

Early stage – lymphoma that is localised to one area or a few areas that are close together, usually stage 1 or 2.

EATL / EITL – a type of T-cell lymphoma called Enteropathy Associated T-cell Lymphoma.

Echocardiography (“ek-oh-CAR-dee-oh-gra-fee”) – a scan of your heart to check the structure and movement of your heart chambers and heart valves.

Efficacy – how well a medication works against your lymphoma.

Electrocardiography (ECG) – a method of recording the electrical activity of the heart muscle.

Eligibility criteria – a strict list of rules you need to meet to join a clinical trial. Inclusion criteria says who can join the trial; exclusion criteria says who can’t join the trial.

Endoscopy – a procedure where a very small camera on a flexible tube is passed into an internal organ, to assist in diagnosis and treatment (for example, in gastroscopy an endoscope is passed through the mouth into the stomach).

Epidemiology – the study of how often disease occurs in different groups of people and why.

Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) – a common virus that causes glandular fever (mono), that may increase your chance of developing lymphoma – most often  Burkitt lymphoma.

Erythrocytes – red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body.

Erythropoietin – a hormone (chemical messenger) made by your kidneys that helps your red blood cells develop; It has also been made into a synthetic medicine (as EPO) to treat anaemia. People with kidney failure may need to EPO.

ESHAP – a treatment protocol. For more details see the protocol here.

Excision biopsy (“ex-SIH-zhun”) – an operation to remove a lump completely; in people with lymphoma this often means the removal of a whole lymph node.

Extranodal disease – lymphoma that starts outside the lymphatic system.

F

False negative – a test result that that fails to pick up the disease of infection. It shows up negative, when it should have been positive.

False positive – a test result that suggests someone has a disease or infection when they do not have it. It shows up positive when it should have been negative.

Familial – runs in a family. Familial diseases affect several family members, but are not associated with a particular identified gene or genetic defect (as in inherited conditions).

Fatigue – extreme tiredness and lack of energy, a common side effect of cancer and of cancer treatments.

Fertility – ability to have children.

Fibrosis (“fye-BROH-sis”) – thickening and scarring of tissues (such as lymph nodes, the lungs); can happen after an infection, surgery or radiotherapy.

Fine-needle aspiration – sometimes shortened to ‘FNA’. It is a  procedure where a small amount of fluid and cells are removed from a lump or lymph node using a thin needle. The cells are then examined under a microscope.

First-line therapy – refers to the first treatment you have after being diagnosed with lymphoma or CLL .

FL – a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma called Follicular Lymphoma.

Flow cytometry – a laboratory technique used to look at lymphoma cells (or other cells) to help make an accurate diagnosis, and plan the most effective treatment.

Follicle – a very small sac or gland.

Fungus – a type of organism (something that is living) that can cause infections.

G

G-CSF – granulocyte colony-stimulating factor. A growth factor that stimulates the bone marrow to make more white blood cells.

GDP – a treatment protocol. For more details, see the protocol here.

Gene – a stretch of DNA with enough genetic information in it to form a protein.

Genetic – caused by the genes.

GIVE – a treatment protocol. For more details, please see the protocol here.

GM-CSF – Granulocyte and macrophage colony-stimulating factor. A growth factor that stimulates the bone marrow to make more white blood cells and platelets.

Grade – a number given from 1-4 that suggests how fast your lymphoma is growing: low-grade lymphomas are slower growing; high-grade lymphomas are faster growing.

Graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) – a condition that can happen after you’ve had an allogeneic stem cell or bone marrow transplant. T-cells from the graft (the donated stem cells or bone marrow) attack some of the normal cells of the host (the person who received the transplant).

Graft-versus-lymphoma effect – a similar effect to GvHD but this time the donor bone marrow or stem cells attack and kill the lymphoma cells. It is not fully understood how this happens, but it has a good effect.

Gray – a measure of how much radiation is being absorbed by the body. Radiotherapy is ‘prescribed’ in numbers of Gray (shortened to ‘Gy’).

Growth factors – naturally occurring proteins that control the development of blood cells, and when they are released into the bloodstream. There are also medicines that have growth factors in them. These are sometimes used during lymphoma treatments, to increase the numbers of particular types of white blood cell, and the numbers of stem cells circulating in the bloodstream (for example, G-CSF, GM-CSF).

GZL – a type of non-Hodgkin  lymphoma called Grey Zone Lymphoma. But it has characteristics of both Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and a type of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, called primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma (PMBCL). It can be difficult to diagnose at first.

H

Haematologist (“hee-mah-TOH-lo-jist”)a doctor specialising in diseases of blood and blood cells, including leukaemia and lymphoma.

Haematopoiesis  (“HEE-mah-toh-po-esis”) – the process making new blood cells, which takes place in your bone marrow.

Haemoglobin – an iron-containing protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen around your body.

Helicobacter pylori – a bacterium that causes inflammation (swelling) and ulcers in your stomach and is associated with a subtype of lymphoma that starts in your stomach (gastric MALT lymphoma).

Helper T cells – T-cells that encourage B-cells to make more antibodies as part of the body’s immune response.

Hickman® line – a type of tunneled central line (thin flexible tube). To see more details on having treatment through a Hickman line, please see the eviQ patient information here.

High-dose therapy – a treatment protocol where large doses of anti-cancer treatments are given with the aim of eradicating all the tumour cells. But, this will also damage the normal blood-producing cells in your bone marrow, so it has to be followed by a transplant of either stem cells (a peripheral blood stem cell transplant, PBSCT) or bone marrow cells (a bone marrow transplant, BMT).

Histo – to do with tissue or cells.

Histology – the study of the microscopic appearance and structure of tissues and cells.

Histopathology – the study of the microscopic appearances of diseased tissues.

HIVhuman immunodeficiency virus. A  virus that attacks the immune system and can cause acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

HL – Hodgkin Lymphoma.

Hormone – a chemical messenger produced by a gland and carried by the bloodstream to another part of the body to affect how that part works.

HSCT – Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant.

Hyper CVAD – a treatment protocol. For more details please see the protocols below:

Hyperviscosity – when your blood is thicker than usual. This can happen when you have high levels of abnormal antibodies in your blood. It is common in people who have Waldenström’s macroglobulinaemia.

Hypothyroidism – an ‘underactive thyroid’. It is caused by a lack of thyroid hormone (thyroxine), and can be a late side effect of radiotherapy to the neck, or from treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors.

I

ICE – a treatment protocol. For more details please see the protocols below:

ICI – Immune checkpoint inhibitor – a type of immunotherapy that targets your immune system and helps it recognise and fight the cancer more effectively (These are a subclass of monoclonal antibody).

Immune system – a system in the body including your white blood cells, spleen and lymph nodes that fight infections. It can also cause allergic reactions.

Immunisation – the process of becoming immune to something or building up an immune response so you can resist the infection in the future; one way of immunising a person is to introduce an antigen (such as a germ) into the body by vaccination.

Immunocompromised/immunosuppressed – a condition where you have less ability to fight infection or disease. It can happen due disease or a side effect of treatment.

Immunoglobulins – sometimes shortened to ‘Ig’, the chemical name for antibodies.

Immunophenotyping – a special technique used to study proteins on the surface of lymphoma cells. It helps the doctor to tell the difference between different lymphomas and make an accurate diagnosis.

Immunosuppression – a condition of reduced immunity caused by a treatment. It can allow infections to occur.

Immunosuppressive – a medication that lowers the body’s ability to fight infection.

Immunotherapy (“eem-you-no-ther-uh-pee”) – a treatment that helps you body’s own immune system to fight a cancer or lymphoma.

Indolent – lymphoma that is growing slowly.

Infection – bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi that don’t normally live in the body (germs) invade your body and can make you ill. If your immune system is not working well, infections can come from bacteria that normally live on your body, for example on your skin or in your bowel, but that has started to grow too much. 

Infusion – having a fluid (other than blood) given into a vein.

Inpatient – a patient who stays in hospital overnight.

Intramuscular (IM) – into muscle.

Intrathecal (IT) – into the fluid around the spinal cord.

Intravenous (IV) – into a vein.

Irradiated blood – blood (or platelets) that has been treated with X-rays before transfusion to destroy any white cells; done to prevent transfusion-associated graft-versus-host disease.

Irradiation – treatment with X-rays or other types of radiation.

IVAC – a treatment protocol, For more details, please see the protocol here.

K

Kinase – a protein that adds a chemical called phosphate to other molecules. Kinases help control important cellular functions, such as cell division, growth and survival.

L

Laparascope – a very small camera at the end of a long, thin, flexible tube that can be inserted into the body.

Late effects – health problems due to treatment, that develop months or years after treatment has ended.

Leukaemia (“loo-KEE-mee-uh”) – cancer of the white blood cells.

Live vaccine – a vaccine that contains a live, weakened version of the germ that causes an infection.

Lumbar puncture – a technique where the doctor inserts a needle into the space around your spine, and removes a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid. 

Lymph – a fluid that circulates in your lymph vessels. It is partly made up of fluid drained from the tissues, and it carries salts and lymphocytes.

Lymphadenopathy (“lim-fa-den-OH-pa-thee”) – swelling (enlargement) of lymph nodes.

Lymphatic system – a system of tubes (lymph vessels), glands (lymph nodes), the thymus and the spleen that helps fight infection and, filters waste fluids and cells from the tissues.

Lymph nodes – small oval glands, usually up to 2cm in length. They are  grouped together throughout your body in the lymphatic system – such as in the neck, armpit and groin. They help the body fight infections and drain away waste fluids from the tissues. They are sometimes known as lymph glands.

Lymph vessels – tubes that carry lymph fluid and connect with the lymph nodes.

Lymphocytes (“LIM-foh-sites”) – special white blood cells that are part of your immune system. There are three main types – B cells, T cells and natural killer (NK) cells. These cells provide you with an “immunological memory”. This means they keep a record of all infections you have had before, so if you get the same infection again, they recognise it and fight it off quickly and effectively. These are also the cells affected by lymphoma and CLL.

Lymphoid tissue (“LIM-FOYD”) – tissue involved in the production of lymph and lymphocytes; consists of:

  • bone marrow
  • thymus gland (the ‘primary’ lymphoid organs)
  • the lymph nodes
  • spleen
  • tonsils 
  • tissue in the gut called Peyer’s patches (the ‘secondary’ lymphoid organs).

Lymphoma (“lim-FOH-ma”) – a cancer of lymphocytes. It affects both your lymphatic and immune system. 

M

MAB – please see monoclonal antibody.

Macrophage – a type of white blood cell that fights infection and diseased cells by eating the bad cells. They then send out chemical messages (called cytokines) to attract other immune cells (disease fighting cells) to the area, to keep fighting the infection or disease.

Maintenance therapy – ongoing treatment to keep your lymphoma in remission after you’ve finished your main treatment and had a good result. 

Malignant – cancerous – something that grows uncontrollably and can travel to other parts of your body.

MALT – A type of lymphoma called mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue.  MALT affects the mucous membranes (the lining) of your gut, lungs or the salivary glands.

MATRix – a treatment protocol. For more details, please see the protocol here.

MBL – monoclonal B-cell Lymphocytosis. This is not a type of cancer or lymphoma, but happens when you have too many of one type of cell in your blood. If you have MBL you may be at more risk of later developing lymphoma.

MBVP – a treatment protocol. For more details, please see the protocol here. 

MCL – mantle cell lymphoma – a type of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

Mediastinum – the center part of your chest including your heart, windpipe (trachea), gullet (oesophagus), large blood vessels and lymph nodes around your heart.

Medical alert card – a card with information about your condition and treatment. If you are given a medical alert card, you should carry it with you at all times.

Metabolism – how fast the cells in your body work.

Metastasis/Metastatic – the spread of cancer cells from where they first developed to other areas of the body.

MF – mycosis fungoides. A type of T-cell non-Hodgkin Lymphoma affecting mostly the skin.

Minimal residual disease (MRD) – tiny amounts of lymphoma remaining after your finish treatment. If you are MRD positive, the remaining disease can grow and cause a relapse (return of cancer). If you are MRD negative, you have a higher chance of a long-lasting remission.

Monoclonal antibody – a type of medication that targets specific receptors on lymphoma cells (or other cancerous cells). They can work in several ways including:

  • They can stop signals the lymphoma need for the cancer to grow and survive.
  • They can strip the lymphoma cells of protective barriers they have used to hide from the immune system.
  • They can stick to lymphoma cells and alert other immune cells of the lymphoma, which results in other immune cells coming to fight.

MRD – See minimal residual disease

MRI – magnetic resonance imaging. A scan using a magnetic field to give very detailed images of the inside of your body.

Mucosa (“myoo-KOH-sah”) – the tissue that lines most of the body’s hollow organs, such as the gut, the air passages and the ducts of glands that open into these hollow organs (such as the salivary glands).

Mucositis (“myoo-koh-SITE-is”) – inflammation of the inside (lining) of your mouth.

MUGA – multi-gated acquisition. A type of scan that checks how well your heart is pumping. Some people may have this before starting treatment.

Multidisciplinary team – a group of health professionals who plan and manage your care and treatment. It can include doctors from different specialties, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologist and more – depending on your individual needs.

Myelodysplastic syndromes (“MY-loh-dis-PLAS-tik”) –  A group of diseases where the bone marrow makes blood cells that don’t work as they should, instead of healthy blood cells. It is sometimes called ‘myelodysplasia’.

Myeloma – a cancer of plasma cells (a type of B cell) found in the bone marrow. Plasma cells are the cells that make your antibodies (immunoglobulins) but it is not lymphoma.

Myeloproliferative disorders – a group of diseases where the bone marrow makes too many of one, or more types of blood cell.

MZL – marginal zone lymphoma. A type of B-cell non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

N

Needle aspiration biopsy – also sometimes known as ‘fine-needle aspiration biopsy’ or FNAB. A thin needle is inserted into a lump in your body (such as in the neck) to remove some cells. These cells are then examined under a microscope.

Neuro – to do with your nerves or the nervous system.

Neuropathyany disease that affects your nerves.

Neutropenia (“nyoo-troh-PEE-nee-ya”) – low levels of neutrophils (a kind of white blood cell) in the blood. Neutrophils are the first cells to find and fight infections and diseases. If you have neutropenia, you are more likely to get infections, that can become serious quickly.

Neutropenic sepsis – a severe infection that can cause inflammation of your organs and blood vessels if you are neutropenic; sometimes called ‘febrile neutropenia’ if the temperature is 38 degrees or more.

Neutrophils (“nyoo-tro-FILS”) – a type of white blood cell that fights infection and disease. Neutrophils are the first immune cells that find and fight infection. If these are low, you are more likely to get infections. Some infections can become serious very quickly if you have neutropenia

NHL – non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. This is a general term to describe a group of over 70 different sub-types of lymphoma. It may affect the B-cell lymphocytes, T-cell lymphocytes or Natural Killer cells.

NLPHL – a type of Hodgkin lymphoma called “Nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin lymphoma”.

O

O or Obi – a monoclonal antibody medication called obinutuzumab. It targets a receptor on the lymphoma cells called CD20. Can be used used with chemotherapy to treat lymphoma (See CHOP or CVP), or as a treatment on is own for maintenance. To see the protocol for maintenance obinutuzumab please click here.

Oncologist (“on-COL-oh-jist”) – a doctor who specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of people with cancer; may be either a medical oncologist who gives medicine to treat cancer or a radiation oncologist (also known as a radiotherapist) who treats cancer with radiotherapy.

Oralby mouth, for example, treatment taken as a tablet or capsule.

Overall survival – the percentage of people who are still alive after a certain number of years, with or without lymphoma. Overall survival (OS) is often measured 5 years and 10 years after treatment has ended. A five or 10 year survival rate does not mean you are only likely to live for 5 or 10 years. It means that studies only tracked people in the study for 5 or 10 years. 

P

Paediatric (“peed-ee-AH-tric”) – to do with children.

Palliativetreatment or care that relieves the symptoms of a condition (such as pain or nausea) rather than to cure the disease.

Paraprotein – an unhealthy (abnormal) protein that can be found in the blood or the urine.

Parenteral – medications or nutrients given by intramuscular injection or by intravenous injection or infusion (not by mouth).

Partial response – lymphoma that has decreased by at least a half but there is still lymphoma present.

Pathologist – a doctor who studies diseased tissues and cells under a microscope.

PBS – pharmaceutical benefits scheme. Medications listed on the PBS are partly funded by the government, which means you may be able to get them cheaper, or at no cost. You can find more information about the PBS here.

PCALCL – a type of T-cell on-Hodgkin lymphoma called Primary cutaneous anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (develops in the skin).

PCNSL – a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma called Primary central nervous system lymphoma (develops in the brain and spinal cord).

Pembro – a monoclonal antibody treatment called pembrolizumab (Keytruda). It is an immune checkpoint inhibitor, which means it strips the lymphoma cells of protective barriers, so your immune system can see it more effectively and fight it. For more details on pembrolizumab to treat Hodgkin Lymphoma, please see the protocol here.

Performance status – a way of grading how well and active you are. 

Peripheral blood stem cell transplant – a type of therapy that first uses high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy to destroy cancer cells, followed by transplantation of stem cells to replace the damaged bone marrow (this damage being a side effect of the high doses of chemotherapy).

Peripheral neuropathy (“per-ih-fural nyoor-O-pah-thee”, O as in “on”) – a condition of the peripheral nervous system (the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord), which usually begins in the hands or feet. You may have numbness, tingling, burning and/or weakness. It can also be caused by some lymphomas and by some anti-cancer drugs. It is important that you report symptoms to your doctor or nurse as they may be able to help.

PET – positron-emission tomography. A scan that uses a radioactive form of sugar to look at how active cells are. For some types of lymphoma, the cells are very active so show up clearly on a PET scan.

PET/CT scan – a scan in which PET and CT scans are combined.

PICC line – peripherally inserted central catheter. A central line (thin flexible tube) that is put in at a point further away from the chest than most other central lines (such as in the upper arm). To learn more about PICC lines please see the eviQ patient information here.

Placebo – an inactive or ‘dummy’ treatment designed to look like the drug being tested in a clinical trial, but with no therapeutic benefit. Usually, one group of people taking part in the trial have standard treatment plus the test drug. Another group of people have standard treatment plus the placebo. Placebos are used to rule out any psychological effects of taking a treatment. You will not be given a placebo on its own if you need active treatment for your lymphoma.  

Plasma – the fluid part of the blood that holds the blood cells; contains proteins, salts and blood-clotting compounds.

Plasma cell – a cell that is formed from a B lymphocyte that produces antibodies.

Plasmapheresis (“plas-MAH-fur-ee-sis”) – sometimes called ‘plasma exchange’. A procedure where the liquid part of the blood (plasma) is separated from the blood cells using a special machine and the cells are returned to the circulation; used to remove protein from the blood of a person with too much of that protein in their blood.

Platelets (“PLATE-lets”) – a type of blood cell that helps your blood to clot. Platelets are also called  thrombocytes. So if you have been told you have thrombocytopenia, it means you have low levels of platelets. This means you may be more likely to bleed and bruise easily.

PMBCL – a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma called Primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma (develops in the lymph nodes in your chest area.

Portacath or Port – a type of central line sometimes used in children that has a port or chamber at the end which stays under the skin; when the central line is used, a needle is put into the chamber. For more details on treatment through a portacath, please see the eviQ patient information here.

Progenitor cell – sometimes called a ‘precursor cell’, an immature cell which can develop into a number of different cell types.

Prognosis – how your disease is likely to progress and how well you are likely to respond to treatment. Many factors affect prognosis including your type of tumour and your age and general health.

Progression-free interval – the time between treatment and the lymphoma starting to increase again. Sometimes called the ‘event-free interval’.

Progression-free survival – the time someone lives without their lymphoma starting to increase again.

Protein – found in all living things, proteins have many roles, including helping to control how our cells work and fighting infections.

PTCL – a type of T-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma called Peripheral T-cell lymphoma. PTCL includes subtypes:

  • Peripheral T-cell lympham no otherwise specified (PTCL-NOS)
  • Angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL) 
  • Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL)
  • Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL)
  • Sezary Syndrome (SS)
  • Adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL)
  • Enteropathy-Type T-cell lymphoma (EATL)
  • Nasal Natural killer T-cell lymphoma (NKTCL)
  • Hepatosplenic Gamma delta T-cell lymphoma.

PVAG – a treatment protocol. For more details, please see the protocol here

R

R or Ritux – a monoclonal antbody treatment called rituximab (also Mabthera or Rituxan). It targets a receptor on the lymphoma cells called CD20. Can be used with other treatments (see CHOP, CHEOP, DA-R-EPOCH, CVP), or used alone for maintenance treatment. Can be given as an infusion into your vein (IV), or as a subcutaneous injection into the fatty tissue of your abdomen, arm or leg. For more details on rituximab maintenance please see the below protocols:

Radiographer – a person who takes radiographs (X-rays) and performs other scans (a diagnostic radiographer) or gives radiotherapy (a therapeutic radiographer).

Radioimmunotherapya treatment using a monoclonal antibody with a particle of radiation attached to it, so it can directly target the lymphoma cell. This makes sure the radiotherapy gets to the lymphoma cells without affecting the healthy cells nearby.

Radiologist – a doctor who interprets radiographs (X-rays) and scans; may also perform biopsies using scans to ensure the right bit of tissue is taken to be examined.

Radiotherapist – a doctor who specialises in treating people using radiotherapy, also known as a ‘clinical oncologist’ or “radiation oncologist”.

Radiotherapy (“ray-dee-oh-ther-ap-ee”) – treatment in which powerful, carefully focused beams of radiation (like X-rays) are used to damage and kill lymphoma and other cancer cells. It is sometimes called ‘external beam radiotherapy’.

Randomisation – a method used in clinical trials, to make sure each participant has the same chance of being put into the different treatment groups. 

R-CHEOP14 – a treatment protocol. For more details please see the protocol here.

R-CHOP – a treatment protocol. For more details please see the protocols here – R-CHOP14 or R-CHOP21.

R-DHAOx – a treatment protocol. For more details please see the protocol here

R-DHAP – a treatment protocol. For more details please see the protocol here.

R-GDP – a treatment protocol. For more details please see the protocol here.

R-GemOx – a treatment protocol. For more details please see the protocol here.

R-HIDAC – a treatment protocol. For more details please see the protocol here.

R-Maxi-CHOP -a treatment protocol. For more details please see the protocol here.

R-Mini-CHOP – a treatment protocol. For more details please see the protocol here.

Red blood cells – blood cells that carry oxygen around the body; also known as ‘erythrocytes’.

Reed–Sternberg cell – an abnormal cell that looks like ‘owl eyes’ under the microscope. These cells are usually on present in people with Hodgkin Lymphoma.

Refractory – a term used to describe when a disease does not respond to treatment, meaning that the treatment no longer has an effect on the cancer cells. If you have refractory disease, your doctor may offer you a different type of treatment.

Relapse – a term used if your lymphoma comes back after you have had treatment, and then a period of time without active disease. 

Remission (“ree-MI-shon”) – the time after your treatment  when there is no evidence of the disease showing on your test results (complete remission). A partial remission is when the amount of lymphoma in your body has reduced by at least half, but is not completely gone; and a ‘good partial remission’ is when three-quarters of the tumour has gone.

Respiratory – relating to breathing or to the organs of breathing (the lungs and air passages).

Response – when lymphoma shrinks or disappears after treatment. See also ‘complete response’ and ‘partial response’.

RICE – a treatment protocol. For more details please see the protocol here Infusional RICE or Fractionated RICE.

S

Scan– a test that looks at the inside of the body, but is taken from outside of the body, such as a CT scan or ultrasound scan.

Second-line treatment – second line treatment happens when, after having your original treatment (first-line treatment) your disease comes back, or if the first-line treatment doesn’t work. Depending on how long ago your first-line treatment was, you may have the same treatment, or have different type of treatment. After second line treatment you may have third or fourth line treatment if your lymphoma comes back or doesn’t respond to the second line treatment.

Sedationwhen you are given a medication to help you relax before a procedure. It can make you sleepy, and you may not remember the procedure, but you will not be unconscious.

Sedativethe medication given to you to help you relax. 

Sepsisa serious immune reaction to an infection that can cause tissue damage and organ failure; sepsis can be fatal.

Side effectan unwanted effect of a medical treatment.

SLL – a type of B-Cell, non-Hodgkin lymphoma called Small lymphocytic lymphoma. It is very similar to Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), but the lymphoma cells are mostly in your lymph nodes and other lymphatic tissue.

SMARTE-R-CHOP – a treatment protocol. For more details please see the protocol here.

SMILE – a treatment protocol. For more details please see the protocol here.

Specialist nurse – your specialist nurse (sometimes called a clinical nurse specialist or CNS) will usually be the first person you should contact about any worries or concerns. A lymphoma nurse specialist has training in looking after people with lymphoma and can help you understand more about your disease, its treatment and how to take care of yourself during treatment.

Spleenan organ that is part your immune system. It is about the size of a clenched fist, and lies just under your rib cage on the left-hand side of your body, behind your stomach. It is involved in fighting infection, and filters you blood, removing foreign particles and destroying old blood cells.

Splenectomyremoving your spleen by surgery.

Splenomegaly (“slen-oh-meg-alee”) – swelling (enlargement) of the spleen.

SPTCL – a type of T-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma called Subcutaneous panniculitis-like T-cell lymphoma that usually develops in the skin.

SS – a type of T-cell lymphoma developing in the skin, called Sezary Syndrome.

Stable disease – lymphoma that has stayed the same (neither gone away nor progressed).

Stagea guide to how many, and which areas of your body are affected by lymphoma. There are four stages used to describe most types of lymphoma, which are usually written with Roman numerals as stage I to stage IV.

Staging the process of finding out what stage your lymphoma is. You will have scans and tests to find out what you stage have.

Stem cell harvest -also called stem cell collection, the process of collecting stem cells from the blood (for use in a stem cell transplant).

Stem cell transplant – the process of giving previously harvested stem cells to an individual. Stem cell transplants may be:

  • Autologous stem cell transplant – where you harvest your own cells and then receive them back at a later time.
  • Allogeneic stem cell transplant – where another person donates their stem cells to you.

Stem cells immature cells which can develop into the different types of mature cells normally found in healthy blood.

Steroidsnaturally occurring hormones that are involved in many of the body’s natural functions; can also be manufactured and given as a treatment.

Subcutaneous (“sub-queue-TAY-nee-us”) – the fatty tissue under your skin.

Surgery treatment that involves cutting into the body to change or remove something.

Symptom – any change in your body or in how it functions; knowing your symptoms can help doctors to diagnose diseases.

Systemicaffecting your whole body (not just local or localised parts of the body).

T

TBI – see total body irradiation.

T-cells / T-cell lymphocytes – cells of the immune system that help protect from viruses and cancers. T-cells develop in your thymus gland. They are a type of white blood cell and can become cancerous causing a T-cell lymphoma.

TGA – Therapeutic Goods Administration. This organisation is part of the Australian Government Department of Health and regulates approvals for medications and other health related treatments. You can find more details about the TGA here.

Thrombocytopenia (“throm-boh-SITE-oh-pee-nee-yah”) – when you don’t have enough platelets in your blood; Platelets help your blood to clot, so if you have thrombocytopenia, you are more likely to bleed and bruise easily.

Thymusa small flat gland at the top of your chest, and behind your breast bone. It is where your T cells develop.

Tissue – a group of similar cells, looking the same and having the same function, that are grouped together to make up parts of your body. Example – the group of cells weaved together to make your muscles are called muscular tissue.

TLS – see tumour lysis syndrome.

Topicalputting a treatment directly onto the surface of the skin, like a cream or lotion.

Total body irradiationradiotherapy given to your whole body, not just a part of it; usually given to kill off any lymphoma cells left in the body before a stem cell transplant.

Transformation – the process of a slow growing lymphoma, turning into a fast growing lymphoma.

Transfusiongiving of blood or blood products (such as red cells, platelets or stem cells) into a vein.

Transfusion-associated graft-versus-host disease (TA-GvHD) – a rare but serious complication of blood or platelet transfusions where white cells in the transfused blood, attack your cells during or after after the transfusion. This can be prevented by irradiating the blood and platelets (this happens at the blood bank, before it comes to you).

Tumour – a swelling or lump that develops from a collection of cells; can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).

Tumour flare – sometimes called a ‘flare reaction’, this is a temporary increase in your lymphoma symptoms after starting treatment. It is more common with certain drugs, such as lenalidomide, rituximab (rituximab flare) and pembrolizumab.

Tumour lysis syndrome – a rare but serious illness that can occur when dying tumour cells release chemical by-products into the circulation that disturb the metabolism; usually occurs after combination chemotherapy or sometimes after treatment with steroid drugs.

Tumour markers – a protein or other marker in your blood or urine that is usually only present if a cancer or other disease is developing.

V

Vaccine/vaccination – a medicine given to help your bodies immune system to resist an infection. This medicine might work by giving you a small dose of the germ or organism that causes that infection (the organism is usually first killed or modified to make it safe);  so your immune system can build up a resistance to it. Other vaccines work in different ways. It is important to talk to your doctor about any vaccines as some vaccination are not safe for people with lymphoma while having treatment.

Varicella zoster – a virus that causes chickenpox and shingles.

Vinca alkaloid – a type of chemotherapy medication made from the periwinkle (Vinca) plant family; examples are vincristine and vinblastine.

Virus – a tiny organism that causes disease. Unlike bacteria, viruses are not made up of cells.

W

Watch and Wait – also called active monitoring. A period of time where you have a slow growing (indolent) lymphoma and do not require treatment, but your doctor will actively monitor during this time. For more details on watch and wait please see our page here.

White blood cell – a cell found in the blood and in many other tissues that helps our bodies to fight infections. Our white cells include:

  • Lymphocytes (T-cells, B-cells and NK cells) – These are the ones that can become cancerous in lymphoma
  • Granulocytes (neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils and mast cells). These fight disease and infection by releasing chemicals that are toxic to the cells so they can kill the diseased and infected cells. But the chemicals they release can also cause inflammation
  • Monocytes (macrophages and dendritic cells) – These cells fight the infection or diseased cells by swallowing them and then letting your lymphocytes know there is an infection. In this way they “activate” your lymphocytes so they fight infection and disease better.

WM – Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia – a type of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

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