Conditions InDepth: Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Lymphomas are cancers of the lymphatic system, the system responsible for fighting infections and draining excess fluid from body tissues. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a general name given to many types of cancer that develop from white blood cells (lymphocytes) in your lymphatic system. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is different from Hodgkin's lymphoma, a related type of cancer.

In general, non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas are divided into two main groups: aggressive (or high grade) and indolent (or low grade). They may also be described by the type of cells found within the lymphoma (mantle cell, T cell, or B cell) or the pattern of grown within the tissue (diffuse or follicular)

The Lymphatic System

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Lymphoma occurs when lymph cells, or lymphocytes, divide uncontrollably. Normally, cells divide in a regulated manner. However, if cells keep dividing uncontrollably when new cells are not needed, a mass of tissue forms. This is called a growth or tumor. The term “cancer” refers to malignant tumors, which can invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body.

The cause of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is unknown.

According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, about 56,200 Americans will be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma this year. It is the fifth most common cancer in the United States.

What are the risk factors for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?
What are the symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?
How is non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosed?
What are the treatments for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?
Are there screening tests for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?
How can I reduce my risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?
What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?
What is it like to live with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?
Where can I get more information about non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?


The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at: .

National Cancer Institute website. Available at: .

Last reviewed February 2007 by Barbara Harty-Golder, MD, JD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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