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Types of Lymphoma

There are more than 70 types of lymphoma. The two overarching categories are Hodgkin Lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). NHL is further divided into B-cell and T-cell lymphomas. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is more common than Hodgkin lymphoma and is found more often in older age.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can be classified as indolent or aggressive based on how fast the cancer spreads, or metastasizes. Indolent lymphomas such as follicular or granular lymphoma grow slowly and may not cause symptoms early on, although close monitoring by a health care professional is recommended. Aggressive lymphomas like diffuse large B-cell lymphoma grow faster and require immediate treatment.

Lymphomas are grouped by type based on where they start in the body’s white blood cells, called lymphocytes. Most lymphomas start in B-cells, which normally create antibodies to help prevent infection from germs or other harmful substances. However, lymphomas also begin in T-cells, which control immune cell activity and destroy abnormal cells and foreign materials, such as bacteria and viruses.

Less than 1 percent of lymphomas begin in natural killer cells, a type of hybrid immune system cell that shares characteristics with both B-cells and T-cells. This rare form of lymphoma is referred to as natural killer cell lymphoma, or NK-cell lymphoma.

Certain factors increase your risk for developing lymphoma, including having a family history of lymphoma, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, or being exposed to radiation and certain chemicals, especially those used in pesticides and herbicides. People who have a weakened immune system from certain infections like the Epstein-Barr virus and Helicobacter pylori, or from taking immunosuppressive drugs, are also at higher risk for developing lymphoma.



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