Lymphoma & Leukemia

Lymphoma

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Lymphoma is a form of cancer that affects the immune system - specifically, it is a cancer of immune cells called lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. There are two broad types of lymphoma and many subtypes.

The two types of lymphoma are described as: Hodgkin's or non-Hodgkin's.

Lymphoma can occur at any age but is the most common cancer in young people. It is often very treatable, and most people live for a long time after being diagnosed.

Lymphoma is cancer of the lymph system (or lymphatic system), which is part of our immunity. It is characterized by the formation of solid tumors in the immune system.1 The cancer affects immune cells called lymphocytes, which are white blood cells.

About 90% of lymphomas are the non-Hodgkin's type while about 10% are Hodgkin's.

Cancer is a group of over 100 diseases, all of which start with the growth of abnormal cells. Instead of dying in the normal cell life cycle, cancerous cells continue to divide into new abnormal cells, and grow out of control.

Lymphatic cancers are classified by the type of immune cells affected.

In non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, B-cells and T-cells are affected - both being types of lymphocyte white blood cell with special roles in immunity. In the US, B-cell lymphomas are much more common than T-cell ones.

In Hodgkin's lymphoma, the cancer cells are usually an abnormal type of B lymphocyte, named Reed-Sternberg cells. There are many subtypes of Hodgkin's lymphoma, typed by differences seen under the microscope - but a very high percentage of cases are classed as "classic" Hodgkin's.

Leukemia

Leukemia is cancer of the blood cells. Most blood cells form in the bone marrow. In leukemia, cancerous blood cells form and crowd out the healthy blood cells in the bone marrow.

The type of leukemia depends on the type of blood cell that has become cancerous. For example, acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a cancer of the lymphoblasts (white blood cells that fight infection). White blood cells are the most common type of blood cell to become cancer. But red blood cells (cells that carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body) and platelets (cells that clot the blood) may also become cancer.

Leukemia occurs most often in adults older than 55 years, and it is the most common cancer in children younger than 15 years.

Leukemia is either acute or chronic. Acute leukemia is a fast-growing cancer that usually gets worse quickly. Chronic leukemia is a slower-growing cancer that gets worse slowly over time. The treatment and prognosis for leukemia depend on the type of blood cell affected and whether the leukemia is acute or chronic. Chemotherapy is often used to treat leukemia.

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