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What is lymphoma? Types, symptoms and common treatment options

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Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that targets the lymphatic system. 

It is often confused with leukemia, another type of blood cancer. A main difference between the two is that lymphoma typically affects the lymph nodes, while leukemia usually occurs in the bone marrow.

Even though the starting point of the two cancers differentiate them, they involve many similar symptoms.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the more common of the main two types, accounts for about 4% of all cancers in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. It is slightly more common in males than in females. 

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It is also one of the more common cancers among kids among all cancer types. 

That said, risk still increases with age. 

Doctor with cancer patient

There are two main types of lymphoma that most patients are diagnosed with: Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the most common of the two. (iStock)

Below is everything you need to know about lymphoma.

  1. What is lymphoma?
  2. Is lymphoma a serious cancer?
  3. How is lymphoma treated?
  4. What are the symptoms of lymphoma?

1. What is lymphoma?

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that begins in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system contains the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus gland and bone marrow. 

Even though lymphoma starts in the lymphatic system, specifically the lymph nodes, it can potentially spread into other parts of the body. 

doctor with tablet

Lymphoma is typically found in the lymph nodes, although it can spread to other parts of the body. (iStock)

There are two main types of lymphoma, Hodgkins and non-Hodgkin’s, with non-Hodgkin’s being the more common of the two. 

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These two types are broad classifications, but there are several subsets under each one.

2. Is lymphoma a serious cancer?

Lymphoma is serious in the sense that it can spread quickly. That said, it is a very curable type of cancer. 

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There are numerous ways in which lymphoma can be diagnosed in an individual. One common, less invasive process of diagnosis is a physical exam, where a doctor will feel for swollen lymph nodes around the neck, underarms and groin. The lymph node may need to be removed for testing. 

woman with doctor

Overall, lymphoma is a very treatable cancer; there are several treatment options for patients. (iStock)

Other methods of diagnosis are blood tests, removing bone marrow for testing, or image testing, such as via a CT or MRI. 

3. How is lymphoma treated?

The way that lymphoma is treated depends on each individual patient and the severity of the spread. 

For certain lymphoma patients, the cancer is very stable, and nothing more than monitoring is needed. 

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For others suffering from more severe cases, treatment may include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, a bone marrow transplant or a combination of these treatment options. 

4. What are the symptoms of lymphoma?

Common systems that could be related to lymphoma are painless swelling of lymph nodes in neck, armpits or groin, persistent fatigue, ongoing fever, night sweats, shortness of breath, unexplained weight loss and itchy skin. 

Man with doctor

If you experience one or more of the symptoms associated with lymphoma, it is a good idea to speak with your doctor. (iStock)

If you experience one or more of these symptoms without other explanation, make an appointment with your doctor to get checked and potentially discuss next steps. 

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.

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