Lymphoma: know the facts

Lymphoma is an umbrella term used for over 60 related cancers which start in the cells of your immune system.<sup>1</sup> There are two general categories of lymphoma: Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). The majority of lymphoma cases that are diagnosed are a type of NHL. Distinguishing between NHL subtypes is important for appropriate treatment. Click on the flashcards below to find out more about NHL and its most common forms.

Blood cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death worldwide. Lymphoma is one of the most prevalent forms.2

NHL is a type of blood cancer that starts in the white blood cells, known as lymphocytes, which are a key component of the immune system.3

The two most common NHL subtypes are diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, an aggressive (fast-growing) form, and follicular lymphoma, an indolent (slow growing) form.4,5

Subtypes can behave differently which means they may require different treatments.6

The median age for diagnosis of follicular lymphoma is 60 years old.7

Symptoms of follicular lymphoma often appear gradually and therefore go unnoticed by patients, resulting in 80% of patients being diagnosed with advanced disease.8

If the disease is early stage, patients may not receive any treatment until symptoms appear or change, but their disease will still be monitored. This is known as “watch and wait”.9

Follicular lymphoma is generally considered incurable; however, with treatment to control their disease, patients can usually survive for many years after diagnosis.10

With every relapse in follicular lymphoma, the disease becomes harder to treat and therapy options become more limited. The aim of the treatment is to prolong the time before a person’s disease returns while preserving their quality of life.11


  1. Swerdlow SH, et al. WHO classification of tumours of haematopoietic and lymphoid tissues. In: World Health Organization Classification of Tumours. Lyon, France: IARC; 2017.

  2. GLOBOCAN 2018. World fact sheet. [Internet; cited November 2018] Available at:

  3. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. [Internet; cited November 2018] Available at:

  4. Le Guyader-Peyrou S et al. Factors Related To The Relative Survival Of Patients With Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma In A Population-Based Study In France: Does Socio-Economic Status Have A Role? Haematologica 2017; 102: 584-592

  5. Shankland KR, et al. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Lancet 2012; 380 (9844): 848-57

  6. Cancer.Net. Lymphoma – Non-Hodgkin: Subtypes. [Internet, cited November 2018]. Available at:

  7. Luminari S et al. Rev. Bras. Hematol. Hemoter. 2012; 34(1): 54-59

  8. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. [Internet; cited November 2018] Available at:

  9. ESMO. Patient guide series: Follicular lymphoma. [Internet; cited November 2018]. Available at:

  10. PDQ Cancer Information Summaries. Adult Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (PDQ®). [Internet; cited November 2018]. Available at:

  11. Johnson PW et al. Patterns of survival in patients with recurrent follicular lymphoma: a 20-year study from a single center. J Clin Oncol, 1995 13(1):140-7


Understanding lymphoma

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