In the past few months, I’ve been writing a lot on here about blood cancer; specifically the leukemia I am battling. The other primary classification of blood cancers are called lymphomas. The difference between leukemias and lymphomas is subtle. I’m trying to inform along the journey so here’s some info if you are interested.
According to the American Joint Committee on Cancer’s (AJCC) most recent publication (the seventh edition of the Cancer Staging Handbook), any cancer that affects the lymphoid cells—lymphoblast, lymphocyte, follicle center cell, immunoblast, plasma cell—should first be described as a Lymphoid Neoplasm. From there, the question on the difference between leukemia and lymphoma becomes one of disease presentation.
- If the disease only tends to affect circulating cells, it is considered a leukemia.
- If the disease tends to produce tumor masses, it is considered a lymphoma.
- If the disease presents both in the circulating cells and in a tumor mass, it is considered a lymphoma/leukemia.
Lymphomas are further subdivides into two main types. According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s website:
What Is Lymphoma?
In 2013, about 731,277 people are living with lymphoma or are in remission (no sign of the disease). This number includes about 172,937 people with Hodgkin lymphoma and 558,340 people with NHL.
Hodgkin lymphoma has characteristics that distinguish it from other diseases classified as lymphoma, including the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells. These are large, cancerous cells found in Hodgkin lymphoma tissues, named for the scientists who first identified them. Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the most curable forms of cancer.
NHL represents a diverse group of diseases distinguished by the characteristics of the cancer cells associated with each disease type. Most people with NHL have a B-cell type of NHL (about 85 percent). The others have a T-cell type or an NK-cell type of lymphoma. Some patients with fast-growing NHL can be cured. For patients with slow-growing NHL, treatment may keep the disease in check for many years.
I hope that helps. 😎 For more information, please contact the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.