Types of Lymphoma and Their Characteristics

What is Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a cancer of Lymphocytes, the cells that make up the Lymphatic and Immune Systems and help fight disease. Lymphoma can begin in either Lymphocytes or Lymphoid Tissue. Lymphoma is caused by family history, virus infections such as Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), Human T Lymphyotrophic Virus (HTLV), and other factors such as diet and lifestyle choices. Lymphomas are typically divided into two main categories: Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas (NHL).

HL usually affects people between 15 – 40 years of age, more commonly men than women with 32 cases per 100 000 people. HL can either be in Lymphocytic or Lymphoblastic form. Lymphocytic is the less aggressive form of Lymphoma and Lymphoblastic is more aggressive, which can spread quickly to other parts of the body.

NHL typically affects people over the age of 40, but has been known to affect children as young as 2 years old. The rate of this cancer between 20 – 39 year olds is 7 cases per 100 000 people and slowly becomes higher with age. There are several subtypes of NHL that all have different causes including AIDS-related lymphomas caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), B cell/lymphocyte cancers due to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and Lymphomas that can be caused by viruses such as Human T Lymphyotrophic Virus (HTLV), Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) and Lymphotrophic herpesvirus.

Researchers have also found several other causes of Lymphoma including genetics, allergies, injuries, diet and lifestyle choices. People with a family history of Leukemia or Lymphoma are more likely to develop Lymphoma than someone without one. Those who get the Epstein-Barr virus which is responsible for infectious mononucleosis are seven times more likely to develop non-Hodgkin Lymphoma later on in life. Intense environmental exposures such as herbicides and pesticides. Heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk of Lymphoma by 70%. Radiation exposure caused by radiation therapy or Hiroshima atomic bomb have also been linked to Lymphomas.

How Can We Prevent Lymphoma?

Medical professionals are constantly working on new treatments for lymphomas, but prevention is still an important factor in fighting this disease. Family history, genetics, viruses and other factors can not be changed; however, diet and lifestyle choices can help to prevent lymphomas.

· People who drink alcohol should do so moderately or not at all. Alcohol increases Lymphoma risk by 70%.

· Keep up to date with vaccines especially if you are over 40 since this is when you are most likely to be exposed to the viruses Lymphomas are caused by.

· If you smoke, quit! The chemicals in tobacco cause damage to your cells and increase your risk of developing cancer; quit smoking now.

· Limit alcohol consumption, even small amounts can affect your health.

· Reduce or stop your use of all non-essential drugs.

· Avoid radiation to the head and neck areas, whether it is medical treatments or everyday life such as using cell phones for long periods of time every day.

· Stay active, but avoid intense physical exercise if you are already at risk for blood clots or if you find it hard to breath after even light exercise.

· Eat a low fat diet including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and reduced sodium foods/drinks to prevent Lymphoma.


Lymphomas are a cancer that begins in the lymphatic system. There are many different subtypes of Lymphoma caused by genetics, viruses and other environmental factors such as diet and lifestyle choices.

To prevent Lymphoma it is important to limit your alcohol consumption, avoid radiation exposure, if you smoke quit now!

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