Understanding Lymphoma: Lymphoma is a group of blood cancers that affect the lymphatic system, a complex disease-fighting network within the body’s immune system. The many types of lymphoma can be divided into two categories: Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL).
The most common symptom among patients with Hodgkin’s or NHL is enlarged lymph nodes. Other symptoms may include fatigue, weight loss, night sweats, and more. However, Hodgkin’s lymphoma can occasionally be asymptomatic and go undetected.
To diagnose lymphoma, doctors typically perform a lymph node biopsy. The sample is sent to a pathologist who examines the tissue under a microscope to look for abnormal cell growth. The presence of Reed-Sternberg cells is a strong indication that a patient has Hodgkin’s lymphoma. If the cells are not present, the lymphoma is classified as Non-Hodgkin’s.
The size and arrangement of atypical cells help pathologists identify which type of Hodgkin’s or NHL a patient has. According to the Lymphoma Research Foundation, there are six types of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and more than 61 types of NHL (including follicular lymphoma).
While the differences in Hodgkin’s and NHL can be microscopic, there are several distinctions that are clearer. Here are three differences in Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma:
Understanding Lymphoma- NHL vs. HL Difference #1: Occurrence
NHL accounts for roughly 90 percent of all lymphoma cases. It is currently the sixth most common cancer among men and fifth most common among women. In contrast, Hodgkin’s lymphoma accounts for less than one percent of all cancers in the United States and has been on a steady decline in recent years.
Understanding Lymphoma- NHL vs. HL Difference #2: Survival Rate
The survival rate among patients diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma is greater than those diagnosed with NHL. More than 86 percent of patients living with Hodgkin’s lymphoma survive five years or more post diagnosis. Comparatively, only 70 percent of patients diagnosed with NHL survive five years or more.
Understanding Lymphoma- NHL vs. HL Difference #3: Age
Patients diagnosed with NHL tend to be significantly older than those diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The median age of a person diagnosed with NHL is 66, whereas the average age of a person living with Hodgkin’s lymphoma is 39.