What is Lymphoma?

What is Lymphoma?

Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system that begins in the lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. Lymphocytes are found in the lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow, thymus gland, and other parts of the body.

Types of Lymphoma


There are two main types of lymphoma, Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The two types of lymphoma involve different types of lymphocyte cells.

Stages of Lymphoma


In adults, the staging system for both forms of lymphoma is the same:

  • Stage I: The cancer is localized, found only in one lymph node area in the body
  • Stage II: The cancer is found in two lymph node areas, or has spread from a lymph node to a nearby organ. Both locations must be on the same side of the diaphragm (a dome-shaped muscle under the lungs) to be considered stage II.
  • Stage III: The cancer is found in several lymph nodes on both sides of the diaphragm. The disease may have spread to the spleen.
  • Stage IV: The most advanced stage of lymphoma, in which the cancer has spread beyond the lymphatic system, like the lungs or liver

The staging system for Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the same for both adults and children, but non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is categorized slightly differently in children.

Symptoms & Signs of Lymphoma


There are several symptoms that can be signs of cancer in lymph nodes, and you should visit your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fever and night sweats
  • Itching

What Causes Lymphoma?


Lymphoma occurs when the DNA in a lymphocyte cell mutates in a way that leads to uncontrolled growth. Researchers don’t yet know what causes these changes but believe most of the time they happen randomly.

Risk Factors

Risk Factors

There are certain factors that can affect your risk of developing lymphoma:

  • Age: Though Hodgkin’s lymphoma can develop in younger people, the majority of people who develop lymphoma are aged 55 and over
  • Gender: Men are slightly more likely to develop lymphoma than women
  • Immune system impairment: If you have a weakened immune system, either because of an underlying condition or immune-suppressing drugs, you are at a higher risk of developing lymphoma
Get Care

Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Lymphoma Care

The experts at NewYork-Presbyterian have years of experience recognizing the signs of lymphoma and other blood cancers. They can help you understand your diagnosis and provide guidance for managing your symptoms throughout treatment. If you’re concerned you may have lymphoma, schedule an appointment with one of our world-renowned doctors today.