Like leukemia, lymphoma is a form of blood cancer. But while leukemia develops in the body’s bone marrow, lymphoma forms in the lymphatic system. There are two main categories of lymphoma: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Hodgkin lymphoma, which is identified by the large cancerous cells that it produces, is a very curable form of cancer. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma encompasses a wide variety of diseases. Some of the fast-growing forms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma can be cured, while the slow-growing cancers can be kept in check for many years.
Causes and Symptoms of Lymphoma
Some factors that can increase the risk for developing lymphoma are not controllable, such as age. Family history also seems to play a greater role in Hodgkin lymphoma than non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Exposure to certain viruses, such as HIV or Epstein-Barr virus, also increases risk, as does a weakened immune system.
When lymphoma produces symptoms, they might include weakness and fatigue, unexplained weight loss, itchy skin, night sweats, fever, coughing and breathing problems or swollen lymph nodes. Because these problems can be related to many conditions, it’s important to see a doctor for diagnosis.
Treatment of Lymphoma
Hodgkin lymphoma is a highly treatable form of cancer. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of the two is usually used to treat Hodgkin lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is also treated with these two forms of therapy, though treating more aggressive forms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma may also involve biological therapy. If the lymphoma comes back (a relapse or recurrence), treatment may become more aggressive and possibly include a stem cell transplant.
SOURCES: Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; U.S. National Cancer Institute