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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma types

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is divided into more than 30 types, classified based on the type of lymphocyte involved, B-lymphocytes (B cells) or T-lymphocytes (T-cells). Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is further classified by other factors, including whether it is aggressive (fast-growing or high-grade) or indolent (slow-growing or low-grade).

Aggressive lymphomas Indolent lymphomas
Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma   Follicular lymphoma  
Anaplastic large cell lymphoma   Cutaneous T-cell lymphomas  
Burkitt lymphoma   Lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma  
Lymphoblastic lymphoma   Marginal zone B-cell lymphomas  
Mantle cell lymphoma   MALT lymphoma  
Peripheral T-cell lymphomas   Small cell lymphocytic lymphoma  

Types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Lymphoma and leukemia

Lymphoma and leukemia share a common origin—lymphocytes, the white blood cells that originate in the bone marrow. B-cells mature in the bone marrow, while T-cells mature in the thymus. These cells, which are critical soldiers in the immune system, travel through the lymphatic system and bloodstream and fight off infection and diseases. Some types of liquid cancer may be considered either leukemia or non-Hodgkin lymphoma, depending on where the cancer originates, as well as other factors. These types of cancer include:

  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)/small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL):  These cancers affect the same cells—small lymphocytes—and are often considered different versions of the same disease. If the cancerous lymphocytes are found in the bone marrow or blood, it is considered CLL. If the cells are located in the lymph nodes or spleen, it is considered SLL. About 5 percent of all non-Hodgkin lymphoma cases are diagnosed as SLL.

Learn more about CLL

  • Precursor T-lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma: This form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, similar to acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), is often found in the thymus. This cancer occurs when immature T-cells mutate and grow rapidly and may form tumors. 

Learn more about ALL

  • Adult T-cell lymphoma/leukemia (ATLL): This type of cancer is most often caused by the human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-1). ATLL that is found in blood is considered leukemia. If it is found in lymph nodes, it is considered lymphoma. ATLL may be aggressive and often affects bones and skin.
  • Hairy cell leukemia: This slow-growing form of leukemia is sometimes considered a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Hairy cell leukemia is very rare, affecting only about 700 patients a year.

Learn more about hairy cell leukemia


Last Revised: 04/12/2018

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