Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that sees around 14,000 people diagnosed with it in the UK every year.

As a result, it is the most common blood cancer diagnosed in the UK so it is important to be aware of its symptoms.

The cancer affects a person's immune system, specifically white blood cells called lymphocytes.

This can impact their development so they either don’t work properly or can multiply out of control.

Blood Cancer UK also states there are two main types of lymphoma: Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin.

What are the differences between Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma?

Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) are two separate diseases and are treated in slightly different ways, with the NHL being the one more commonly diagnosed.

Cancer Research UK explains: "Hodgkin lymphoma has a particular appearance under the microscope. It contains cells called Reed-Sternberg cells. NHL looks different under the microscope and does not contain Reed-Sternberg cells."

There are also various different types of NHL depending on whether they affect B cells or T cells or if they are high grade or low grade.

Cancer Research UK adds: "Lymphomas are often grouped together as either high grade or low grade. The grade refers to how quickly they are likely to grow and spread.

"The 2 groups are low grade (slow growing) and high grade (grow more quickly). The different grades of NHL are treated in slightly different ways."

What are the causes of lymphoma?

The exact causes of lymphoma are unknown but there is a risk of developing the condition if:

  • you have a medical condition that weakens your immune system
  • you take immunosuppressant medicine
  • you have previously been exposed to a common virus called the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes glandular fever

What are the symptoms of lymphoma?

According to the NHS, the most common symptom of both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a painless swelling in a lymph node, usually in the neck, armpit or groin.

They add: "The swelling is usually painless, although some people find that it aches.

"The swelling is caused by an excess of affected lymphocytes (white blood cells) collecting in a lymph node (also called lymph glands)."

Some people with lymphoma also have other more general symptoms such as:

  • night sweats
  • unintentional weight loss
  • a high temperature (fever)
  • a persistent cough or feeling of breathlessness
  • persistent itching of the skin all over the body

How is lymphoma diagnosed?

The NHS states the way to confirm a diagnosis of lymphoma is by carrying out a biopsy.

This is a minor surgical procedure where a sample of affected lymph node tissue is removed and studied in a laboratory.

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What is the treatment for lymphoma?

Blood Cancer UK says treatments for the cancer can vary depending on the type of lymphoma you have, how far it has spread (its stage) and whether you have symptoms.

Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and targeted therapies have been used to treat it.

They add: "If you have a slow-growing lymphoma, you may not need treatment straight away, and some people never need it. This is called being on watch and wait.

"Lymphoma treatments can have side effects. Some people experience some of these effects as a result of the lymphoma itself, even if they aren't having treatment."