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What is lymphoma?

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Quick Answer

Lymphoma is a cancer that originates in immune system cells, called lymphocytes, according to the American Cancer Society. There are multiple types of lymphoma, classified by the type of immune cell they affect, and the specific type may dictate what kind of treatment plan should be used.

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Full Answer

The types of lymphoma are Hodgkin disease, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, lymphoma of the skin and Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia, according to the American Cancer Society. Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma are the most common types, and of the two, non-Hodgkin lymphoma is notably more prevalent. Lymphoma is sometimes referred to as blood cancer because it affects the white blood cells, which are key to the body's immune system. Lymphoma can develop in the lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow and organs, says the Lymphoma Research Foundation.

Symptoms of lymphoma include swelling or pain in the lymph nodes, fever, chills, fatigue and unintentional weight loss. Treatment for lymphoma often involves chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of the two. In some cases, a doctor may perform a stem cell or bone marrow transplant. The prognosis for most forms of lymphoma tends to be positive, according to the Lymphoma Research Foundation, especially when detected early. Most people who have Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma can be cured through treatment.

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