Lymphoma: Patient Education


The lymphomas are really a mix of lots of different types of disorders. There are two broad categories: The Hodgkin lymphomas — which are a small subset, maybe five to ten percent of total lymphomas, and the non-Hodgkin lymphomas — which are a mix of lots of different types. You can divide the non-Hodgkin lymphomas into two different types: those that are aggressive and those that are indolent, or slow growing.

Mark H. Holguin, MD, Hematology/Oncology; Chief – Section of Hematology

Lymphomas are cancers that develop in the lymph system — the tissues that produce, store and carry lymphocytes (white blood cells).

The lymph system includes:

  • Bone marrow
  • Spleen
  • Thymus
  • Lymph nodes — bean-shaped structures found in your:
    • Neck
    • Underarms
    • Abdomen
    • Pelvis
    • Groin
  • Network of thin tubes that carry lymph and white blood cells into all the tissues of your body

Lymphocytes attack germs in your body. There are two kinds of lymphocytes:

  • B-cells — produce antibodies that fight bacteria
  • T-cells — attack viruses and foreign cells; trigger B cells to produce antibodies

B-cells and T-cells can both develop into lymphomas. B-cell lymphomas are more common in the United States.

There are three primary types of lymphoma:

For more information, please select from the lymphomas listed above.

On a more personal note, my philosophy about seeing patients stems from some of my own experiences. I've had cancer before. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma and got to experience chemotherapy and radiation treatment and all that goes with it. Fortunately, I am free of disease. My philosophy is that I like to treat people in the same way I wanted to be treated when I was a patient. That includes an explanation about what’s happening, what is the disease, what are the chances we can fix it, what the treatment is going to be like. And from my perspective from having gone through it previously, I can explain what patients can expect from the side effects of the treatment, as well as some of the emotional aspects of what you go through dealing with the diagnosis.

Mark H. Holguin, MD, Hematology/Oncology; Chief – Section of Hematology

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Related Resources

Hodgkin Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

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