Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that affects the lymphocytes, which are the white blood cells that form part of the immune system and help fight infection. The body has 2 main types of lymphocytes – B cells and T cells. In lymphoma, either the B or T lymphocytes undergo a harmful change and therefore divide and multiply uncontrollably. These abnormal lymphocytes do not work properly and crowd out the healthy cells. Lymphoma affects the normal functioning of the immune system.
There are 2 main types of lymphoma which are characterised by different symptoms and treatment options, and these include:
- Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) which is common in young adults between the ages of 15 – 30 years, and adults aged over 50 years
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) which is common in older people