Lymphomas are cancers that grow in the cells of the immune system, the body's defense system against disease and infection. There are two major kinds of lymphoma:
- Hodgkins lymphoma
- Non-Hodgkins lymphoma
Hodgkins disease, also known as Hodgkins Lymphoma, is a less common form of lymphoma. It is a malignant cancer of lymphoid tissue found in the lymph nodes, spleen, liver and bone marrow. The diagnosis of Hodgkins Lymphoma depends on having abnormal cells called Reed-Sternberg cells.
The causes of Hodgkins Lymphoma remain unknown, but an impaired immune system and exposure to carcinogens, pesticides, herbicides, viruses and bacteria may be a factor. There may be a higher risk for people infected with the Epstein-Barr virus (which causes mononucleosis) and who have a family history of Hodgkin's disease.
The first sign of this cancer is often an enlarged lymph node that appears without a known cause. The disease can spread to nearby lymph nodes and later may spread outside the lymph nodes to the lungs, liver, bones or bone marrow.
Symptoms associated with Hodgkins disease include:
- Painless swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin (swollen glands)
- Fever and chills
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease are sweating, excessive skin blushing/flushing, pain in the neck or side, hair loss, clubbing of the fingers or toes, and an enlarged spleen.
Be aware that other conditions or diseases can cause these symptoms. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, be sure to see your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment options.
Learn more about Diagnosing and Treating Hodgkins Lymphoma.
Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma is a cancer of lymphoid tissue (lymph nodes, spleen, and other organs of the immune system).
Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma can be slow-growing or rapidly growing. For most patients, the cause is unknown, but lymphoma can develop in people with a suppressed immune system, such as after organ transplantation.
Non-Hodgkins tumors occur more frequently than Hodgkins Lymphoma. More often, non-Hodgkins Lymphoma affect people older than 50. High-risk groups include organ transplant recipients and immunosuppressed people. Environmental factors, including exposure to certain chemicals, including some pesticides, solvents, or fertilizers could be a risk factor.
The most common symptom of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is painless swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm or groin. Other symptoms may include:
- Unexplained fever
- Night sweats
- Constant fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
- Itchy skin
- Reddened patches on the skin