Each year, there are thousands of people who are diagnosed with lymphoma, which is a cancer that begins with cancerous white blood cells in the immune system. Most lymphomas can be divided into either Hodgkin lymphomas or non- Hodgkin lymphomas. Hodkgin lymphoma is defined by the presences of malignant B cells, while non-Hodgkin lymphoma can occur from B or T cells. In addition to this main difference, there are other many different categories of lymphomas.
- Hodgkin Lymphoma
This is one of the most commonly occurring forms of a lymphoma. It occurs when a Reed-Sternberg cell, which is a large cell that does not protect the body from infection, abnormally multiplies. The Reed-Sternberg cells are a mutated form of the B lymphocytes that typically protect the body from infection. Hodgkin lymphoma normally results in a tumor that grows in a lymph node somewhere in the body. This form of lymphoma is typically treated with a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and bone marrow transplants.
- Follicular Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
A follicular lymphoma is the most common type of slow growing, low grade lymphoma. It occurs when abnormal B-cell lymphocytes build up along the lymph nodes. These B cells are abnormal because CD20, a type of protein, grows along their surface. It typically results in swelling along the armpits, groin, or neck that are not painful. Follicular lymphoma normally affects adults over the age of 50.
- Mantle Cell Lymphoma
When it is first starting out, the abnormal B cells of mantle cell lymphoma look like they are a low grade lymphoma that will grow slowly. However, mantle cell lymphoma actually grows very quickly, and it is often spread throughout the body by the time it is detected. It can be tricky to cure, and mantle cell lymphoma is most commonly treated with chemotherapy. This type of lymphoma is very rare, since it only affects five percent of people with a non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and it is most common among men over the age of 50.
- Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma
Normally, a lymphoma is a cancer that begins in the lymph nodes while a leukaemia is a cancer that starts in the bloodstream. However, this unusual form of lymphoma combines the two types of cancer. A small lymphocytic lymphoma happens when a lot of the abnormal cells are in both the blood and the lymph nodes, instead of originating in just one place.
- Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma
This is the most common form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and it is very fast growing. It is caused by abnormal B cells, but they do not just occur in the lymph nodes. Instead, the cancer can quickly spread in the brain, bone, breast, skin, and gastrointestinal tract, instead of just remaining a confined tumor within the lymphatic system. Depending on which parts of the body are affected, the prognosis for patients with this type of lymphoma can vary greatly. It spreads very quickly, so immediate chemotherapy and radiation treatment is often recommended.
- Peripheral T Cell Lymphoma
Most lymphomas result from the B cells, but the T cell lymphocytes can also turn into cancer. Only about six percent of all non-Hodgkin lymphoma is due to T cells. Normally, the lymphoma cells remain within just the lymph nodes, making the cancer easier to treat, but they can spread to the bone marrow, liver, skin, and digestive system. This type of cancer is usually very fast growing, and it is most often treated with chemotherapy.
- Lymphoblastic Lymphoma
Lymphoblastic lymphoma most often develops from abnormal T cells, but it can be formed from B cell lymphocytes. The cancerous lymphocytes occur in the lymph nodes or thymus gland, causing swelling of enlarged lymph nodes or a central inner chest lump. This type of lymphoma primarily affects children and teenagers, and it is very rare for adults over the age of 35 to develop a lymphoblastic lymphoma. It is very aggressive and fast growing, and intensive, three phase chemotherapy is normally used for treatment. Lymphoblastic lymphoma tends to be rather similar to the symptoms of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
- Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma
This lymphoma is caused by T lymphocytes growing abnormally along the skin. At first, cutaneous T cell lymphoma is often misdiagnosed as eczema because it appears to be flat itchy patches of reddened skin. People with mycosis fungoides have a very low grade version of cutaneous T cell lymphoma that grows slowly, and there is normally a very good outlook for people with this type of lymphoma. There is also a more aggressive version of this lymphoma type that is called Sezary syndrome, and it happens when the cancerous T cells are also within the blood.
- Burkitt Lymphomas
These lymphomas are caused by B cells, and they tend to grow so quickly that Burkitt lymphoma is considered to be the fastest growing form of cancer. It is most common among people who have lowered immune systems, such as people with Epstein-Barr or HIV. The first symptom of Burkitt lymphoma is normally a tumor along the jaw or abdomen, and cancerous cells rapidly spread into the spinal fluid and brain. Intensive chemotherapy is normally required for treatment, and untreated Burkitt lymphoma is quickly fatal.
- Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma
This lymphoma form is most common in young adults or children who are male. It is one of the more common types of lymphoma that is due to abnormal T cells. These cancerous cells most often appear along the skin, lymph nodes, or other organs. Anaplastic large cell lymphoma is very fast growing, so it must be treated quickly. Sometimes there is an abnormal protein on the surface of the cancerous cells, which is called anaplastic lymphoma kinase, and this requires a different form of treatment. Normally, people who test negative for the abnormal protein have a lower prognosis.