There are two categories of lymphoma: Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL).
They are both blood cancers which involve lymphocytes, a class of immune cells within the immune system.
However, there are many different types of lymphocytes, and the specific type of lymphocyte cells involved determine which lymphoma it is.
While the lymphoma types can appear confusing, they are based on the following factors:
- The way the cells look when studied under a microscope. Also called the “histology”.
- Are there any genetic mutations and if so, what kind?
- Where are they in the body and are they confined to one location or spread throughout?
- What kind of cells produced them?
- Which kinds of proteins do the lymphoma cells carry on the surface?
Since several types of lymphomas share various features, it can be difficult to classify them in an easy to comprehend system.
Furthermore, a lymphoma that begins as one particular kind of lymphoma can become another type over time!
Some of the NHL (non-hodgkins Lymphoma) classifications include:
- intestinal T-cell lymphoma
primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma peripheral T- cell lymphoma lymphoblastic lymphoma lymphoplasmacytoid lymphoma true histiocytic lymphoma primary central nervous system lymphoma primary effusion lymphoma monocytoid B-cell lymphoma mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma anaplastic large-cell lymphoma adult T-cell lymphoma/leukemia mantle cell lymphoma angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma angiocentric lymphoma post-transplantation lymphoproliferative disorder
Other types of NHLs (Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas) stand alone as unique based on the demographic they typically impact or the way they manifest.
Some of the are:
- Lymphoblastic lymphoma (LBL) – This type of lymphoma is often found in children and constitutes about 1/3 of all child lymphomas. This form of lymphoma is rather aggressive and grows rapidly. Until recently, LBL proved deadly for most patients. But advances in chemotherapy have improved survival rates.
- Burkitt’s lymphoma – This lymphoma is associated with Epstein-Barr syndrome, which may in fact cause it. This is a prevalent lymphoma on the African continent. While this form of lymphoma does occur worldwide, it doesn’t appear to involve the Epstein-Barr virus save in Africa. Burkitt’s typically manifests as a tumor in the jaw bone or abdomen.
Diffuse histiocytic lymphoma (DHL) – Known additionally as a reticulosarcoma, this class of lymphoma is composed of a substance resembling connective tissue. DHL usually takes its time and is very stubborn in its response to treatment. It also tends to recur after treatment.
Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTLC) – Also termed mycosis fungoides aka Sezary syndrome, this class of lymphomas attacks the epidermis. CTLC causes the white blood cells of the skin to turn into cancer cells and form tumors. Like DHL, CTLC grows in a slow fashion. Initially, CTLC may manifest itself in dry skin, rashing and pruritis (itchy skin). Over time, the skin develops tumors. As the cancer progresses, its possible that it can proliferate to other organs and the blood. On top of treatments indicated for most lymphomas, CTLC may utilize two additional treatments. Phototherapy is the first. Phototherapy involves sensitizing the cancer cells to light via special drugs and then exposing them to light of certain wavelengths to induce apoptosis (cell death) in the lymphoma. Treatment number 2 is called total skin electron-beam radiation therapy or TSEB. This treatment calls for exposing the surface of the skin to radiation. CTLC is best caught early, as treatment in later stages is less effective. Treatment does prolong life and help alleviate symptoms. Lymphoplasmacytoid lymphoma (LPL) with Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia – LPL happens when so called plasma cells – a type of white blood cell – begin to duplicate out of control. This is a slowly-progressing, so called “indolent” lymphoma. LPL cells also release copious amounts of a type of antibody named IgM into the bloodstream. This causes a condition called Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia. Besides the peril presented by the lymphoma, itself, this is a problem because it causes the blood to thicken. Many problems arise from this including loss of energy, headache, weight drop, impaired vision, mental haziness, dizziness, discoordinated movement and profuse bleeding. If left untreated, the heart can fail due to overburdening by the thickened blood.
Lymphoma types are many and the symptoms of lymphoma in women will generally be the same as those in men across the different types with some natural variation.