The term lymphoma encompasses more than 40 related types of cancer that develop from lymphocytes (cells of the immune system). Lymphoma arises when one of these cells undergoes a transformation into a malignant cell and begins to grow abnormally, dividing and forming tumors.
Lymphocytes, critical cells in the immune system, originate in the bone marrow and thymus, a small organ in front of the heart. These cells circulate in the blood and lymph and reside in the lymph nodes and in the other organs of the lymphatic system -- the spleen, thymus, tonsils, and bone marrow, which are generally affected first in patients with lymphoma.Types of Lymphomas
Lymphomas are divided into two general types: Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. Combined, the non-Hodgkin's lymphomas are much more prevalent than Hodgkin's disease. Since the early 1970s, the incidence of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas has doubled in the United States; the greatest increase has occurred among the elderly. Only lung cancer in women and melanoma have increased more rapidly. Over the same period, Hodgkin's disease has declined -- particularly among the elderly.
Hodgkin's disease is a cancer that originates in the nodes of the lymphatic system, the collection of organs, tissues, and vessels that produces infection-fighting cells and carries them throughout the body. About 7,600 new cases of Hodgkin's disease (also called Hodgkin's lymphoma) are diagnosed in the United States each year. Hodgkin's disease can occur throughout life but is most common in early adulthood (ages 15 to 40, peaking in people between 25 and 30). The majority of patients with Hodgkin's disease can have very good outcomes with current therapy.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a group of cancers that originate in the lymphatic system, the lymph nodes, vessels, and organs that produce infection-fighting and tumor-fighting cells and carry them throughout the body. About 53,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma each year. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is much more common in adults than children and is now the fifth most common cancer among both men and women. The number of new cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma diagnosed each year has nearly doubled over the past 30 years, with much of the increase occurring among patients over the age of 60.The Genetics of Lymphoma
Memorial Sloan-Kettering researchers are working to improve the understanding of the genetic causes of Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, as well as multiple myeloma, leukemia, and related diseases. The goal of the research is to identify genetic changes that may predict the risk of developing one of these diseases.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering's Lymphoma Disease Management Team provides comprehensive care to men and women with all types of lymphoma. These internationally recognized medical and radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, and other specialists work closely together in the care of more than 450 lymphoma patients each year and see more than twice that number in consultation.