Types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a complex group of more than 45 distinct varieties. Broadly speaking they can be divided into two categories
- The aggressive types of lymphoma
- The indolent (slow growing) types of lymphoma
The aggressive forms of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are frequently curable because many chemotherapy drugs target rapidly dividing cells.
The indolent forms on the other hand are usually not curable, but patients often live for many years with them because they respond very well to treatment and remain in remission for long periods due to their slow growth. In the past decade the median survival of patients with indolent lymphoma has increased dramatically.
You can choose the category of interest from the menu on the left, or go to our classification page where you can see all types of NHL and click on the type that you are interested in. The link below will take you to the USA National Cancer Institute page about NHL and its treatments.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHLs) are a very diverse
(heterogeneous) group of cancers of the lymph system with
differing patterns of behaviour and responses to treatment.
The lymph system is made up of thin tubes that branch, like blood vessels, into all parts of the body. Lymph vessels carry lymph, a colourless, watery fluid that contains white blood cells called lymphocytes. Along the network of vessels are groups of small, bean-shaped organs called lymph nodes. Clusters of lymph nodes are found in the underarm, pelvis, neck, and abdomen, along with many other parts of the body. The lymph nodes make and store infection-fighting cells.
The spleen (an organ in the upper abdomen that makes lymphocytes and filters old blood cells from the blood), the thymus (a small organ behind the breastbone), and the tonsils (an organ in the throat) are also part of the lymph system. Because lymph tissue is found in many parts of the body, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma can start in almost any part of the body. The cancer can spread to almost any organ or tissue in the body, including the liver, bone marrow (the spongy tissue inside the large bones of the body that makes blood cells), spleen, and nose.
Unlike Hodgkin's lymphoma, NHL is much less predictable and far more likely to spread outside the lymphatic system to other sites or major organs. Tumours that occur outside a lymph node are often referred to as extranodal tumours.