Lymphomas at Oaks Hospital

What is lymphoma?

Lymphoma cancer can develop when your infection-fighting white blood cells, called lymphocytes, grow out of control. It starts in your lymph system, a network of vessels and glands spread throughout your body that produce, store, and carry white blood cells. The affected lymphocytes lose their infection-fighting properties and make you more vulnerable to infection.

There are two main types of lymphoma and within these are many subtypes. It is important to know the type of lymphoma to determine the best course of treatment.

  • Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) - uncommon cancer where B-lymphocytes multiply abnormally and collect in parts of your lymphatic system, such as your lymph node glands. HL contains Reed-Sternberg cells that are identifiable under a microscope. Hodgkin lymphoma typically begins in your upper body, such as the neck, chest or armpits.
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) - the fifth most common cancer in the UK. NHL typically develops from B and T-lymphocytes in the lymph nodes or tissues throughout your body. NHL does not contain Reed-Steinberg cells.

The exact cause of lymphoma is unknown. We do know that your risk of developing lymphoma cancer is increased if you have a medical condition that weakens your immune system, you take immunosuppressant medication, you've had exposure to the common Epstein-Barr virus that causes glandular fever, or you have a first-degree relative such as a parent or sibling who has had the condition.

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