What is lymphoma?
Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer.
- It is the 5th most common type of cancer in the UK.
- It can affect both adults and children, at any age.
- There are effective treatments for most types of lymphoma.
Lymphoma develops when white blood cells called lymphocytes grow out of control. Lymphocytes are part of your immune system, which helps to fight infection. Lymphocytes travel around your body in the lymphatic system carrying a fluid called lymph. The lymph fluid passes through glands (lymph nodes), which are spread throughout your body. For this reason, lymphoma might also be referred to as a cancer of the immune system.
If you have lymphoma, your lymphocytes divide in an abnormal way or do not die when they should. The abnormal lymphocytes build up, usually in lymph nodes in your armpits, neck or groin. However, they can collect in almost any part of your body.
The symptoms of lymphoma depend on where the lymphoma starts, what parts of your body it affects, and what type of lymphoma it is. There are over 60 different types, broadly grouped into Hodgkin lymphomas and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas are further grouped depending on whether they are slow-growing (described as ‘low-grade’ or ‘indolent’) or fast-growing (‘high-grade’ or ‘aggressive’). Different types of lymphoma behave differently and need different treatment.