Lymphoma is the name given to a group of cancers that attack the lymphatic system of the body. They are the most common type of blood cancer and the third-most common type of childhood cancer. The lymphatic system is the part of the body that fights infections by transporting white blood cells and lymph fluid throughout the body. There are over thirty different types of lymphoma; five of these are known as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or Hodgkin’s disease, which is most common in young adults age sixteen to thirty-four. The other types are known as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.


The first symptom often noticed is a swollen gland or painless lump under the arm, in the groin area, neck, or abdomen. Lymph nodes sometimes swell up in reaction to illness or infection; this swelling is usually tender and sore. Swelling due to lymphoma makes a hard, painless lump. Other symptoms can include night sweats, sudden and unexplained weight loss, frequent fevers, loss of energy, and itching without rash. All of these symptoms can be caused by other things; if they persist for more than two weeks, see your doctor for tests to determine if the problem is lymphoma.

Diagnosing Lymphoma

Your doctor will run various tests to determine whether or not lymphoma is present, and, if it is, what type of lymphoma it is. Blood tests, biopsies, physicals, and internal imaging tests may all be performed. Once the type of lymphoma is determined, you will probably be referred to an oncologist, a doctor that specializes in cancer.

Treating Lymphoma

The method that is used to treat lymphoma will depend on the type of lymphoma present and how advanced it is. Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and biological therapy are all commonly used to attack the cancer. Bone marrow transplants are also used in some special cases. Radiation therapy uses x-rays to shrink the tumors; chemotherapy uses combinations of medicine to kill the cells. Biological therapy is an advancing field in cancer research. This therapy is designed to get the body to recognize the cancer cells and fight them specifically. It has shown good results, and, though still in the research stage, promises to be a key factor in the future fight against cancer.

Because of the nature of lymphoma, it is one of the main cancers researched. Thus, new ways of treating and controlling it are being studied all the time. Patients with lymphoma can volunteer for treatment trials to aid the research and find new options for treatment.


The prognosis for those diagnosed with lymphoma varies. According to the Lymphoma Research Foundation, the five-year survival rate for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is 59%. The five-year survival rate for those with Hodgkin’s lymphoma is 85%. However, research is constantly being done on new ways to treat lymphoma, giving hope for more successful forms of treatment and better recovery rates.

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