Lymphoma is a cancer that affects the cells of the immune system, a disease that affects people of all ages, including children. According to the Lymphoma Research Foundation, lymphoma is the leading type of blood cancer in the U.S., and it is the third most common cancer of childhood and the sixth most common type of cancer in adults. There are two types of lymphoma, both of which have different outlooks and tend to occur in different age groups. Both types cause similar symptoms, according to the National Cancer Institute, but they can be distinguished during microscopic examination. Fortunately for sufferers of lymphoma cancer, cure rates are high and treatments are often effective at slowing the spread of the cancer.
According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, lymphoma occurs when a white blood cell, called a lymphocyte, becomes malignant, multiplies, and forms tumors that enlarge the lymph nodes.
There are two main types of lymphoma: Hodgkin's lymphoma, which includes five subtypes, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which includes all other cases of lymphoma.
The first sign of lymphoma is typically a painless swelling of the lymph nodes, but other symptoms include an enlarged spleen, fever, chills, night sweats, fatigue, unexplained weight loss and itching, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
The National Institutes of Health states that there is no known means of preventing lymphoma, and treatment generally consists of a combination of chemotherapy, radiation and biological therapy.
Hodgkin's lymphoma has a high cure rate and an 80 percent five-year survival rate. Recent medical advancements have improved the five-year survival rate for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma to 55 percent, according to the Lymphoma Research Foundation.