Lymphoma is a type of cancer which affects the blood. There are two basic types of lymphoma, known as Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is then divided into further groups which include lymphoblastic, diffuse histiocytic, Burkitt's, and cutaneous T-cell lymphomas. Symptoms are often similar among all of the lymphomas, so medical testing is necessary in order to get an accurate diagnosis concerning the exact type which is present in an individual situation. Some of the most common symptoms include fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and weight loss.
Hodgkin's disease is less common than the non-Hodgkin's form of the disease. Some of the most frequently reported symptoms include fever, chills, loss of appetite, and weight loss. The lymph glands in the neck, underarms, and groin are often swollen but do not generally cause pain. Some patients may, however, experience pain in the lymph nodes after drinking alcohol. Other potential symptoms include night sweats, itching, chest pain, or difficulty breathing.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is by far the most common form of the disease. This type of cancer can then be classified into many different sub-types, but these sub-types are largely grouped by whether the cancer grows quickly or slowly. The symptoms for this type of cancer are the same as those present in Hodgkin's disease, so medical testing is required in order to know which form of cancer is present.
Some of the tests which may be ordered when testing for lymphoma include blood and urine tests, physical examination, imaging tests, and biopsy. Blood and urine tests check for an elevation in the number of special white blood cells known as lymphocytes. The physical examination involves the doctor feeling for swelling of the lymph nodes and making a note of any recent weight loss. Imaging tests may include x-rays or CT scans, designed to help medical professionals see any abnormalities or masses on the lymph nodes. A biopsy involves a minimally-invasive surgical procedure in which a small amount of tissue is removed from a lymph node and sent to a laboratory for further testing.
Regardless of the type of lymphoma present, treatment options are very similar. In milder cases where the cancer is slow-growing, no treatment may be necessary for several years. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy are among the most common treatment choices for lymphoma which is advanced or fast-growing. Any questions or concerns about the various types of lymphoma or the available treatment options should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.