What is Lymphoma?

Lymphomas are blood cancers that develop in the lymph nodes and tissues of the lymphatic system. The job of the lymphatic system is to remove excess fluid from the body. Lymphoma begins in the white blood cells (lymphocytes) of the immune system.
There are two main types of white blood cells: B cells (B lymphocytes) and T cells (T lymphocytes). Both types can develop into lymphoma cells, but B cell lymphomas are much more common than T cell lymphomas in the United States. 

Although there are many different types of lymphoma, the two most common types of are:

- Hodgkin Lymphoma (HL) 
- Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL)  

More about the Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is made up of lymph nodes and tissue found in the neck, armpits, groin, chest, and abdomen. Places in the body where lymphoid tissue is found include:

  • Lymph Nodes: Lymph nodes are bean-sized organs found throughout the body. They are connected by a system of lymphatic vessels. These vessels are like veins, except that instead of carrying blood, they carry lymph and immune system cells. 
  • Spleen: The spleen is an organ under the lower part of the rib cage on the left side of the body. The spleen makes white blood cells and other immune system cells to help fight infection. 
  • Thymus Gland: The thymus lies behind the upper part of the breastbone and in front of the heart. 
  • Adenoids and Tonsils: These are collections of lymphoid tissue located at the back of the throat. 
  • Digestive Tract: The stomach and intestines as well as many other organs also contain lymphoid tissue. 
  • Bone Marrow: The bone marrow makes red blood cells, blood platelets, and white blood cells. Lymphomas sometimes start from bone marrow lymphocytes.


Updated 2/24/15