Lymphoma is a cancer of lymph cells. Lymph cells (also called lymphocytes) are a type of blood cells that are known as white blood cells (WBCs). Lymph cells are found in blood and lymph nodes. In lymphoma, some lymph cells become abnormal, start multiplying quickly, and grow to form a cancer.
Cancer cells in lymphoma mainly gather in lymph nodes -- small structures present along blood vessels. As the cancer cells grow and multiply, the lymph nodes enlarge and form lumps. Most of the time, this cancer is detected as painless lumps in the neck, armpits or groin. Several other warning signs and symptoms of lymphoma include fever, weight loss and sweating at night. Lymphoma can also affect other organs of the body (besides lymph nodes) and give rise to a variety of symptoms that bring an individual to a doctor.
Lymphoma is not a single cancer. There are two main groups -- Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). There are many different types of both Hodgkin's lymphoma and NHL. In total, there are nearly 30 different types of lymphoma, some common and some rare. Some lymphomas are very different from others. Find out about the types of Hodgkin's lymphoma and the types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Not much is known about the cause of lymphoma. Though some viral infections are known to cause this cancer, in most individuals, the reason for getting a lymphoma is unclear. Read about the
Once an individual is diagnosed with lymphoma, several tests are performed to identify the type of lymphoma and finding the stage of lymphoma. A treatment plan for the lymphoma is then decided. Available treatments can cure many patients of this cancer and can control the disease in many others.