Lymphoma is a type of cancer that starts in white blood cells called lymphocytes. These cells are essential to the immune system, helping your body fight infections and other diseases.

Lymphoma develops when lymphocytes grow and multiply abnormally. This can happen if cell growth control genes no longer work properly. Then the cells grow uncontrollably or live longer than they should.

What causes lymphoma?
There are many types of lymphoma, and in most cases, there is no apparent reason why lymphoma develops. Your risk for certain types of lymphoma can increase if your immune system is suppressed. For example, organ or bone marrow transplantation, treatment with immunosuppressive drugs, and the presence of autoimmune diseases may increase the risk for certain types of lymphoma.

Being exposed to some infections may also increase your risk of developing some types of lymphoma. These include Helicobacter pylori, the hepatitis C virus, the HIV virus, or the human T cell leukemia/lymphotropic virus. In rare cases, a very uncommon form of lymphoma is linked to breast implants, particularly those with a textured surface.

What are the types of lymphoma?
The over 70 types of lymphoma range from slow-growing to highly aggressive. Lymphomas are categorized into two broad groups: non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma.

What are the treatments for lymphoma?
Your treatment depends on your type of lymphoma and how far the disease has spread. Thanks to advances in molecular and genetic testing and our understanding of the biology of different tumor types, we can tailor highly individualized treatments. Some slow-growing lymphomas may not require treatment and can be monitored. This approach is called active surveillance. For other lymphomas, very effective treatments are available, including chemotherapy, targeted therapies, radiation, stem cell transplantation, immunotherapy, and other therapies.