Lymphoma is the name of cancer that develops in the lymphatic system.  The lymphatic system is an important part of the immune system.

What is Lymphoma?

Lymphoma is the name of cancer that develops in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is an important part of the immune system and includes the various lymph glands around the body. Lymphoma is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infection.

There are two main type of lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma (most common type) and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The different types of lymphoma vary in how they appear and progress, and how unwell people feel.

Lymphoma is the most commonly diagnosed blood cancer in Australia, and the sixth most common form of cancer.

Types of Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma accounts for approximately 90% of all lymphoma diagnoses and is the most common type of blood cancer in Australia.

There are many different sub types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma which are divided into ‘B-cell’ or ‘T-cell’ lymphomas. Both sup-types are cancers of the lymphatic system after the B or T lymphocytes (type of white blood cell) undergo a malignant change and multiple uncontrollably. These abnormal cells eventually form as tumours, most commonly in the lymph nodes of the body.

Hodgkin lymphoma

Hodgkin lymphoma is a rare cancer accounting for approximately 0.5% of all cancers diagnosed in Australia. While non-Hodgkin lymphoma can affect either the B or T cells, Hodgkin lymphoma is marked by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells. Reed-Sternberg cells are malignant, mature B cells, and are unusually large.

Hodgkin lymphoma tends to progress quite predictably through lymph nodes and is commonly diagnosed in early stages.

A biopsy is the only way for doctors to confirm a Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis.

Signs and symptoms of Lymphoma

The most common symptom of both lymphomas is swelling of one or more lymph glands. Hodgkin lymphoma is more likely to appear in the neck, underarms and chest, while non–Hodgkin can arise in lymph nodes throughout the body.

Other signs:

  • Swollen abdomen
  • Abnormal sweating, especially at night
  • Ongoing fatigue/tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bruising or bleeding easily
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Rash or itching


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