Types of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Classifying non-Hodgkin lymphoma can be quite confusing
(even for many doctors) because there are so many types (around 30) and because several different systems
have been used. The most recent system is the World Health Organization (WHO) classification. The WHO system
uses the appearance of the lymphoma cells, the chromosome features of the cells, and the presence of certain
chemicals on the surface of the cells. (Older systems classified lymphomas based only on their appearance
under a microscope.)
This summary lists the most prevalent lymphomas in order of frequency and categorizes
them into B-cell and T-cell lymphomas.
B-cell lymphomas make up most (about 85%) of non-Hodgkin lymphoma
in the United States.
With about 1 out of every 3 cases, this is one of the more prevalent non-Hodgkin lymphoma subtypes in the US.
When seen under a microscope, the cells appear to be fairly large.
Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) can affect any age group but occurs mostly in older people (the average
age of most patients is mid-60s). The usual symptoms are a quickly growing mass in an internal lymph node,
such as in the chest or abdomen or in a lymph node that you can feel, for example, in the neck or armpit.
Although the lymph nodes are where this lymphoma typically begins, it can also spread to the intestines,
bones, and even the brain or spinal cord.
About 1 out of 3 of these lymphomas is confined to one part of the body (localized). When it is localized,
this type of lymphoma is considered to be more curable than when it has spread to other parts of the body.
Genetic tests have shown that there are different subtypes of DLBCL, even though they look the same under
the microscope. These subtypes seem to have different outlooks (prognoses) and responses to treatment.
Despite its rapid growth, this lymphoma frequently responds favorably to chemotherapy. Overall, about
3 out of 4 people will have no signs of disease after initial treatment, and about half of all people with
this lymphoma are cured with therapy.