Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer. It’s in the same family as leukemia, myeloma, and myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). When a person has lymphoma, their lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) develop abnormally and then reproduce rapidly. These abnormal lymphocytes crowd out healthy cells and disrupt the proper functioning of the lymphatic system.

Lymphoma is the most common type of blood cancer in America. More than 800,000 people are living with or in remission from some form of lymphoma and more than 90,000 people in America will be diagnosed with lymphoma this year. Despite how common this cancer is, there are a lot of things people don’t know about lymphoma. Here are five facts about lymphoma that you should know.

1. There Are Many Types of Lymphoma

There are many different lymphomas, commonly split into two main types: Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Both HL and NHL are further broken down into categories and subtypes. Some lymphomas are rare, like double-hit lymphoma. Some are aggressive, like mature B-cell lymphomas. Others, like follicular lymphoma, are considered indolent, or slow-growing. Altogether, there are over 70 types of lymphoma.

2. Many Factors Can Increase Lymphoma Risk

It’s believed that a combination of genetic factors and environmental factors causes lymphoma. Several factors can increase a person’s likelihood of developing lymphoma. Here are a few known risk factors:

  • Sex (men have a slightly higher risk of developing most kinds of lymphoma than women do)
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Increasing age
  • Having a family member with lymphoma

Some lymphoma risk factors are within our control. Many, like aging and family history, we have no control over.

3. Lymphoma May Not Show Early Symptoms

The most common symptom of lymphoma is one or more swollen or enlarged lymph nodes that usually don’t hurt. Lymph nodes are an important part of the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system. Clusters of lymph nodes are mostly concentrated in the armpits, neck, and groin.

Not everyone has or notices early lymphoma symptoms. Some people have no symptoms, and their lymphoma is discovered during a routine medical examination or while undergoing care for an unrelated condition.

4. Different Lymphomas Call for Different Treatment Approaches

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all recommended lymphoma treatment for every person. Treatment for lymphoma varies widely and depends on the type of lymphoma a person has the stage of their lymphoma, and the state of their general health.

Treatment for lymphoma may involve chemotherapy, radiation therapy, steroids, targeted therapies, and stem cell transplantation. In some instances, an oncologist will recommend a treatment plan that aims to get rid of the lymphoma entirely, while other times, the goal of treatment will be to control or slow cancer. For some people diagnosed with certain slow-growing types of lymphoma, the doctor might not start treatment upon diagnosis, instead of prescribing a “wait and watch” approach.

5. Lymphoma Is Very Treatable

Most types of lymphoma tend to have a good chance at treatment success. With the right treatment regimen, two-thirds of people who have the most commonly diagnosed, aggressive form of lymphoma achieve remission. For people who were diagnosed with lymphoma when they were younger than 45 years old, the five-year survival rate is over 95 percent for HL and nearly 85 percent for NHL.


  1. Introduction to lymphoma  – Lymphoma Action
  2. Facts and Statistics Overview – Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
  3. Types of Lymphoma – Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center