Lymphoma is a broad term for cancer that begins in cells of the lymph system. The two main types are Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Hodgkin lymphoma can often be cured. The prognosis of NHL depends on the specific type. Explore the links on this page to learn more about lymphoma treatment, research, and clinical trials.

Adult Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment

  • Adult Hodgkin lymphoma is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the lymph system.
  • The two main types of Hodgkin lymphoma are classic and nodular lymphocyte-predominant.
  • Being in early or late adulthood, being male, past Epstein-Barr infection, and a family history of Hodgkin lymphoma can increase the risk of adult Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Signs and symptoms of adult Hodgkin lymphoma include swollen lymph nodes, fever, drenching night sweats, weight loss, and fatigue.
  • Tests that examine the lymph system and other parts of the body are used to help diagnose and stage adult Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

Adult Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment

There are two general types of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This summary is about the treatment of adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma, including during pregnancy.

There are two general types of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This summary is about the treatment of adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma, including during pregnancy.

For information about other types of lymphoma, see the following PDQ summaries:

  • Adult Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Treatment (lymphoblastic lymphoma)
  • Adult Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment
  • AIDS-Related Lymphoma Treatment
  • Childhood Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment
  • ent (small lymphocytic lymphoma)
  • Mycosis Fungoides (Including Sézary S
  • Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Treatmyndrome) Treatment (cutaneous T-cell lymphoma)
  • Primary CNS Lymphoma Treatment

AIDS-Related Lymphoma Treatment

AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which attacks and weakens the body’s immune system. A weakened immune system is unable to fight infection and disease. People with HIV disease have an increased risk of infection and lymphoma or other types of cancer. A person with HIV and certain types of infection or cancer, such as lymphoma, is diagnosed as having AIDS. Sometimes, people are diagnosed with AIDS and AIDS-related lymphoma at the same time. For information about AIDS and its treatment, please see the AIDSinfo website.

AIDS-related lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the lymph system. The lymph system is part of the immune system. It helps protect the body from infection and disease.

The lymph system is made up of the following:

  • Lymph: Colorless, watery fluid that travels through the lymph vessels and carries T and B lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell.
  • Lymph vessels: A network of thin tubes that collect lymph from different parts of the body and return it to the bloodstream.
  • Lymph nodes: Small, bean-shaped structures that filter lymph and store white blood cells that help fight infection and disease. Lymph nodes are found along a network of lymph vessels throughout the body. Groups of lymph nodes are found in the neck, underarm, mediastinum, abdomen, pelvis, and groin.
  • Spleen: An organ that makes lymphocytes, stores red blood cells and lymphocytes, filters the blood, and destroys old blood cells. The spleen is on the left side of the abdomen near the stomach.
  • Thymus: An organ in which T lymphocytes mature and multiply. The thymus is in the chest behind the breastbone.
  • Tonsils: Two small masses of lymph tissue at the back of the throat. There is one tonsil on each side of the throat.
  • Bone marrow: The soft, spongy tissue in the center of certain bones, such as the hip bone and breastbone. White blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets are made in the bone marrow.

Lymph tissue is also found in other parts of the body such as the brain, stomach, thyroid gland, and skin.

Sometimes AIDS-related lymphoma occurs outside the lymph nodes in the bone marrow, liver, meninges (thin membranes that cover the brain) and gastrointestinal tract. Less often, it may occur in the anus, heart, bile duct, gingiva, and muscles.

Mycosis Fungoides (Including Sézary Syndrome) Treatment

Normally, the bone marrow makes blood stem cells (immature cells) that become mature blood stem cells over time. A blood stem cell may become a myeloid stem cell or a lymphoid stem cell. A myeloid stem cell becomes a red blood cell, white blood cell, or platelet. A lymphoid stem cell becomes a lymphoblast and then one of three types of lymphocytes (white blood cells):

  • B-cell lymphocytes that make antibodies to help fight infection.
  • T-cell lymphocytes that help B-lymphocytes make the antibodies that help fight infection.
  • Natural killer cells that attack cancer cells and viruses.

In mycosis fungoides, T-cell lymphocytes become cancerous and affect the skin. When these lymphocytes occur in the blood, they are called Sézary cells. In Sézary syndrome, cancerous T-cell lymphocytes affect the skin and large numbers of Sézary cells are found in the blood.

Primary CNS Lymphoma Treatment

Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk.

Primary CNS lymphoma may occur in patients who have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) or other disorders of the immune system or who have had an organ transplant. For more information about lymphoma in patients with AIDS, see the PDQ summary on AIDS-Related Lymphoma Treatment.

These and other signs and symptoms may be caused by primary CNS lymphoma or by other conditions. Check with your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Seizures.
  • Headaches.
  • Arm or leg weakness.
  • Confusion.
  • Double vision.
  • Hearing loss.

Childhood Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment

The two main types of childhood Hodgkin lymphoma are:

  • Classic Hodgkin lymphoma. This is the most common type of Hodgkin lymphoma. It occurs most often in adolescents. When a sample of lymph node tissue is looked at under a microscope, Hodgkin lymphoma cancer cells, called Reed-Sternberg cells, may be seen.
  • Classic Hodgkin lymphoma is divided into four subtypes, based on how the cancer cells look under a microscope:

    • Nodular-sclerosing Hodgkin lymphoma occurs most often in older children and adolescents. It is common to have a chest mass at diagnosis.
    • Mixed cellularity Hodgkin lymphoma most often occurs in children younger than 10 years of age. It is linked to a history of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection and often occurs in the lymph nodes of the neck.
    • Lymphocyte-rich classic Hodgkin lymphoma is rare in children. When a sample of lymph node tissue is looked at under a microscope, there are Reed-Sternberg cells and many normal lymphocytes and other blood cells.
    • Lymphocyte-depleted Hodgkin lymphoma is rare in children and occurs most often in adults or adults with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). When a sample of lymph node tissue is looked at under a microscope, there are many large, oddly shaped cancer cells and few normal lymphocytes and other blood cells.
  • Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma. This type of Hodgkin lymphoma is less common than classic Hodgkin lymphoma. It most often occurs in children younger than 10 years of age. When a sample of lymph node tissue is looked at under a microscope, the cancer cells look like “popcorn” because of their shape. Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma often occurs as a swollen lymph node in the neck, underarm, or groin. Most individuals do not have any other signs or symptoms of cancer at diagnosis.

Childhood Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your child’s doctor if you think your child may be at risk.

Possible risk factors for childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma include the following:

  • Past treatment for cancer.
  • Being infected with the Epstein-Barr virus or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
  • Having a weakened immune system after a transplant or from medicines given after a transplant.
  • Having certain inherited diseases (such as DNA repair defect syndromes which include ataxia-telangiectasia, Nijmegen breakage syndrome, and constitutional mismatch repair deficiency).

If lymphoma or lymphoproliferative disease is linked to a weakened immune system from certain inherited diseases, HIV infection, a transplant or medicines given after a transplant, the condition is called lymphoproliferative disease associated with immunodeficiency. The different types of lymphoproliferative disease associated with immunodeficiency include:

  • Lymphoproliferative disease associated with primary immunodeficiency.
  • HIV-associated non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease.

What is Cancer?

  • Cancer can start almost anywhere in the human body, which is made up of trillions of cells. Normally, human cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells take their place.

  • Cancer prevention is action taken to lower the risk of getting cancer. This can include maintaining a healthy lifestyle, avoiding exposure to known cancer-causing substances, and taking medicines or vaccines that can prevent cancer from developing.

  • Cancer can cause many different symptoms. Most often these symptoms are not caused by cancer, but by benign tumors or other problems. If you have symptoms that last for a couple of weeks, your doctor will do a physical exam and order tests or other procedures to find out what is causing your symptoms.