What is Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma? (2023)

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is a cancer that begins in lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are the cells of the lymphatic system.

Lymphatic system @(Model.HeadingTag)>

The lymphatic system works with the rest of the immune system to help the body fight infection and disease. The lymphatic system is a network of lymphatic vessels, lymph nodes and lymphatic organs. Lymph vessels carry lymph fluid, which contains lymphocytes and other white blood cells, antibodies, and nutrients. Lymph nodes line lymph vessels and filter lymph fluid. Lymphoid organs include spleen, thymus, adenoids, tonsils, and bone marrow.

Lymphocytes develop in the bone marrow from basic cells called stem cells. Stem cells develop into different types of cells with different functions. Lymphocytes are the type of white blood cells that help fight infection. The main types of lymphocytes are:

  • B cells make antibodies to fight bacteria, viruses and other foreign substances (such as fungi).
  • T cells fight infections, destroy abnormal cells and control the immune response.
  • Natural killer cells (NK cells) attack abnormal or foreign cells.

Sometimes the lymphocytes change and stop growing or behave normally. These abnormal cells can form tumors called lymphomas.

Because lymphocytes are found throughout the lymphatic system, NHL can occur virtually anywhere in the body. It usually starts in a group of lymph nodes somewhere in the body, such as the neck, above the collarbone, armpits, abdomen, or groin.

NHL can spread through the lymphatic system or bloodstream to virtually any tissue or organ in the body. Abnormal lymphocytes or lymphoma cells can remain in the lymph nodes or form solid tumors in the body. In rare cases, they circulate in the blood.

What is Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma? (1)

Tipo NHL @(Model.HeadingTag)>

There are over 30 different types in the NHL. They are grouped according to the type of lymphocyte they originate from. Most types of NHL begin in B cells, called B-cell lymphomas. NHL can also start in T cells, called T cell lymphoma. NHL that originates in NK cells is grouped with T-cell lymphomas.

Different types of NHL look different under the microscope. They also develop and grow differently. NHL is classified by how different or abnormal the lymphoma cells are compared to normal lymphocytes. The note gives doctors an idea of ​​how slowly or quickly the NHL is growing and spreading. The NHL is generally divided into 2 levels:

  • Indolent (low grade) NHL means that the cancer cells are well differentiated. They look and behave the same as normal cells. These NHLs tend to grow slowly.
  • Aggressive (high-grade) NHL means that the cancer cells are poor or undifferentiated. Their appearance and behavior are less than normal or more abnormal. These NHL tend to develop rapidly.

Classification system of the World Health Organization (WHO) @(Model.HeadingTag)>

Doctors use the WHO classification system to identify types of NHL. Each type can present differently and require different treatments.

The WHO classifies NHL by the type of lymphocyte (B cell or T cell) that becomes cancerous. NHLs that begin in natural killer cells (NK cells) fall into the same category as T-cell lymphomas.

The World Health Organization divides B and T cell lymphomas into two categories based on the stage of development or maturation when the lymphocytes become cancerous. Precursor lymphomas form in immature lymphocytes in the early stages of their development. Mature lymphomas (also called peripheral lymphomas) develop in more mature lymphocytes.

The specific type of NHL depends on the appearance of the abnormal lymphocytes or lymphoma cells under the microscope, the characteristics of the chromosomes in the lymphoma cells, and the presence of certain proteins on the surface of the lymphoma cells.

The WHO classifies lymphoma and lymphocytic leukemia as types of NHL. Both begin in lymphocytes, but lymphoma cells are found in different parts of the body. If the tumor develops in the lymph nodes or other organs, it is considered lymphoma. Lymphoma is considered leukaemic lymphoma when lymphoma cells are present in the blood or bone marrow and form a tumor.

Other cancers of the lymphatic system are mentionedHodgkin lymphoma(HL). Abnormal Hodgkin lymphoma cells look and behave differently than non-Hodgkin lymphoma cells. Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma are treated differently.

Expert review and references

  • American Cancer Society.Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Also 2014:http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003126-pdf.pdf

  • American Society of Clinical Oncology.Overview of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Also 2014:https://www.kanker.net/

  • British Columbia Cancer Agency (BCCA).Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Also 2014:http://www.bccancer.bc.ca/

  • Faber EA, Vose JM, Armitage JO, Bierman PJ. Diagnosis and treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in adults. Wiernik PH, Goldman JM, Dutcher JP, Kyle RA (editors).hematologic malignancies. Fifth edition. Jumper; 2013:47:1027–1047.

  • [ PubMed ] Friedman AS, Jacobson CA, Moher P, Aster JC. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS and Rosenberg SA.Cancer: principles and practice of oncology. 10th edition. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015:103:1552-1583.

  • Medeiros L J. Pathology of non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin lymphomas. Wiernik PH, Goldman JM, Dutcher JP, Kyle RA (editors).hematologic malignancies. Fifth edition. Jumper; 2013:42:867–918.

  • National Cancer Institute.Healthcare Professionals for the Treatment of Adult Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (PDQ®). 2015:http://www.cancer.gov/types/lymphoma/hp/adult-nhl-treatment-pdq#section/all

lymphatic system

The lymphatic system drains excess fluid (called lymph) from the blood into the tissues and returns it to the blood. The lymphatic system is a circulatory system made up of lymph vessels that resemble blood vessels. The lymphatic system also includes the tissues and organs that produce, store, and release lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell).

Learn more about the lymphatic system

diffuse large B-cell lymphoma

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is the most common type of NHL. Some other NHL types can also turn into DLBCL. Learn more about DLBCLs.

Learn more about diffuse large B-cell lymphoma

follicular lymphoma

Follicular lymphoma is the second most common type of NHL. There should be no symptoms other than swollen lymph nodes. Learn more about follicular lymphoma.

Learn more about follicular lymphoma

Linfoma MALT

MALT lymphoma is a type of B cell NHL. Most MALT lymphomas begin in the stomach. Learn more about MALT lymphoma.

Learn more about MALT lymphoma


Mantle cell lymphoma is more common in men than in women. The diagnosis is usually made in people over the age of 60. Learn more about mantle cell lymphoma.

Learn more about mantle cell lymphoma

More Types of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a cancer that affects a type of white blood cell called a lymphocyte. Lymphocytes are cells of the immune system that normally protect us against disease. Learn more about types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Learn about more types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma

adult T-cell leukemia lymphoma

Learn more about adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma. It is more common in places where the HTLV-1 virus is more common, such as the Caribbean and parts of Africa.

Learn more about adult T-cell leukemia lymphoma

Aggressive NK cell leukemia

Aggressive NK cell leukemia (ANKL) is a rare form of NHL. It usually occurs in people from Asia, Central and South America. Read more about ANKL.

Read more about aggressive NK cell leukemia

AIDS-related lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the most common type of lymphoma that affects people with AIDS. Learn about the main types of AIDS-related lymphoma.

Learn more about AIDS-related lymphoma

Anaplastic large cell lymphoma

Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) is a rare T-cell lymphoma. ALCL can occur at any age, but is more common in children and young adults. It affects more men than women.

Learn more about anaplastic large cell lymphoma

angioimmunoblastisch T-cellymfoom

T-cell angioimmunoblastic lymphoma (ATCL or AITL) is more common in older adults and is associated with the Epstein-Barr virus. Learn more about ATCLs.

Learn more about angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma

Burkitt lymphoma

Burkitt lymphoma is most common in children and young adults. Most people are infected with the Epstein-Barr virus. Learn more about Burkitt lymphoma.

Learn more about Burkitt lymphoma

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia and small lymphatic lymphoma

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia and small lymphatic lymphoma are often considered different versions of the same disease. Learn more about these NHLs.

Read more about chronic lymphocytic leukemia and small lymphatic lymphoma

Cutaan T-cellymfoom

Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) is a group of lymphomas that affect the skin. Learn about the symptoms and treatments of different types of CTCL.

Learn more about cutaneous T-cell lymphoma

T-cell lymphoma associated with enteropathy

Enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphoma (ETL) is a very rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). The most common types of EATL are associated with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Learn more about EATL.

Learn more about enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphoma

Extranodal NK/T cell lymphoma, nasal type

Extranodal NK/T cell lymphoma of the nasal type is a fast-growing type of NHL. It is related to the Epstein-Barr virus. Learn more about these NHLs.

Learn more about nasal extranodal NK/T cell lymphoma

Hepatosplenisch T-cellymfoom

Hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma (HSTL or HSTCL) is very rare. This sometimes happens in people whose immune system is not working properly. Learn more about HSTL.

Learn more about hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma

intravasculair grootcellig B-cellymfoom

Intravascular large B-cell lymphoma (ILCL) is a fast-growing type of NHL. It is usually treated with chemotherapy and targeted therapy. Learn more about ILCLs.

Learn more about intravascular large B-cell lymphoma

lymphoblastic lymphoma

Lymphoblastic lymphoma is most common in teens and young adults. They are more common in young men. Learn more about lymphoblastic lymphoma.

Learn more about lymphoblastic lymphoma

lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma

Lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma cells have characteristics of both lymphocytes and plasma cells. Learn more about lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma.

Learn more about lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma

Marginal lymph node lymphoma

Nodal lymphoma in the marginal zone usually affects only the lymph nodes, but can develop in other organs as well. Learn more about marginal zone lymphoma.

Learn more about marginal nodal zone lymphoma

Peripheral T-cell lymphoma, unspecified

Peripheral T-cell lymphoma, unspecified (PTCLU) usually occurs in people in their 60s, more men than women. Learn more about PTCLUs.

Learn more about unspecified peripheral T-cell lymphoma

Lymphoproliferative disorder after transplantation

Post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD) is a complication that can occur after organ transplantation. Learn more about PTLDs.

Learn more about post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease

primary lymphoma of the central nervous system

Primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) begins in the brain, spinal cord, meninges, or eyes. Learn more about primary central nervous system lymphoma.

Learn more about primary central nervous system lymphoma

primary effusion lymphoma

Primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) is a rare subtype of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). It is also considered a separate type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in the World Health Organization (WHO) classification system. PEL may also be called body cavity lymphoma.

Learn more about primary stroke lymphoma

Primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma

Primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma (PMBCL) occurs in the thymus or lymph nodes in the center of the chest. Learn more about PMBCLs.

Learn more about primary large B-cell lymphoma of the mediastinum

prolymphatic leukemia

Prolymphatic leukemias (PLLs) are rare lymphocytic leukemias, but also resemble lymphomas in that they begin in lymphocytes. Learn more about PLLs.

Learn more about prolymphatic leukemia

Spleen marginal zone lymphoma

Splenic marginal zone lymphoma (SMZL) is a slow-growing type of NHL. It has been linked to viral infections, including the hepatitis C virus. Learn more about SMZLs.

Learn more about splenic margin zone lymphoma

Panniculitis-like subcutaneous T-cell lymphoma

Panniculitis-like subcutaneous T-cell lymphoma (SPTCL) causes nodules under the skin of the legs, chest, abdomen, or back. Learn more about SPTCLs.

Read more about panniculitis-like subcutaneous T-cell lymphoma

T-cell large granular lymphocytic leukemia

Large granular T-cell lymphocyte (TLGL) leukemia is common in people with rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune diseases. Learn more about TLGL leukemia.

Learn more about T-cell large granular lymphocytic leukemia


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