What is lymphoma?

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that develops in the lymphatic system and involves the immune system cells. These infection-fighting cells, called lymphocytes, can be found in various parts of the body, including lymph nodes, thymus, spleen and bone marrow. Cancer occurs when these cells grow out of control and undergo genetic changes.

The two most common types of lymphoma are non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our cancer experts perform a comprehensive array of diagnostic tests to determine the cancer type and stage before developing a personalized treatment plan tailored to each patient.

Lymphoma (Cancer of Lymphocytes)
Abnormal cells form in the body’s immune system also known as the lymphatic system.

Lymphoma symptoms

Lymphoma is characterized by enlarged lymph nodes and may also affect organs, such as the liver, lungs and stomach. Symptoms of lymphoma may share similar characteristics with other illnesses, such as a cold or the flu. If you experience symptoms that do not go away after more than two weeks or are recurring, consult your doctor.

Other common lymphoma symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Loss of appetite or vomiting
  • Sudden and dramatic weight loss
  • Night sweats or chills
  • Unexplained pain or swelling
  • Difficulty moving body parts

Lymphoma stages

At CTCA®, a thorough and accurate cancer diagnosis, including staging, is the first step in developing a lymphoma treatment plan. The lymphoma stage describes the extent to which the cancer has spread, and is categorized a numbering system (stage 1 through 4) and may also include the letters A, B, E and S to help further describe the cancer, based on whether the patient is experiencing specific symptoms.

A and B: The letter A means that a person has not experienced B symptoms. The letter B indicates the person has experienced one or more of the following B symptoms: drenching night sweats, unexplained fever or sudden weight loss.

E and S: The letter E indicates the disease has spread to tissues or organs outside the lymphatic system. The letter S describes cancer that has spread to the spleen.

Stage 1: The cancer is detected in one lymph node region or organ.

Stage 2: The cancer is in two or more lymph node regions on the same side of the diaphragm.

Stage 3: The cancer is found in lymph nodes on both sides of the diaphragm, above and below it.

Stage 4: The cancer has spread to one or more tissues or organs outside the lymph system, such as the liver, lungs or bone marrow.

Learn more about non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma.