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Lymphoma - Overview

Lymphoma is cancer that starts in the lymphoid tissue (lymphatic tissue). The lymphatic system helps the body fight infection and filter fluid from extremities and organs.

Lymph nodes, small organs found in the neck, underarm, groin and other places throughout the body, make infection-fighting white blood cells. These white blood cells are called lymphocytes. These lymphocytes are carried in a colorless fluid, or lymphatic fluid, by lymphatic vessels to the blood vessels.

There are two types of lymphoma. The lymphomas are non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and Hodgkin's lymphoma. Hodgkin's lymphoma was named after Dr. Thomas Hodgkin who first recognized it in 1832.

Lymphoma causes enlargement of the lymphatic tissue putting pressure on important structures and can be present in many parts of the body. The cancer cells in Hodgkin's and Non-Hodgkin's disease look different under a microscope.

Signs and symptoms

  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Itching
  • Fever over several days or weeks
  • Night sweats
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss

Treatment

Treatment for most cases of lymphoma is very effective and may include chemotherapy or radiation therapy.