There are so many types of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. And several different systems have been used in clinics. Older systems classified lymphomas based only on how they looked under a microscope. This type of classification can not supply pathological information of each lymphoma. The most recent system is the World Health Organization (WHO) classification. Not only based on how they look under a microscope, this classification also based on the chromosome features of the lymphoma cells and the presence of certain chemicals on the surface of the cells. It is widely used in clinics.
The more common types of lymphoma are according to whether they are B-cell lymphoma or T-cell lymphoma. B-cell lymphoma is one type of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In the United States, B-cell lymphoma make up about 85% of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Types of B cell lymphoma
B-cell lymphoma includes:
- Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma: Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is one of the more common types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the United States. It can affect any age group but occurs mostly in older people. This lymphoma usually starts in lymph nodes and can grow in other areas such as the intestines, bone, or even the brain or spinal cord. It is a fast growing lymphoma, but often responds well to treatment with chemotherapy
- Follicular lymphoma: Follicular lymphoma is about 1 out of 5 lymphomas in the United States. It is rare in very young people and the average age is about 60. Follicular lymphomas are often slow-growing, but hard to cure.
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia /small lymphocytic lymphoma: These kinds of lymphomas are slow-growing diseases. The treatment depends on the stage and growth rate of the disease.
- Mantle cell lymphoma: Only about 5% of lymphomas are of this type. The cells are small to medium in size. Mantle cell lymphoma isn’t a very fast growing lymphoma, but it is hard to treat. The reason is because the lymphoma is usually widespread when it is diagnosed. Recently, more aggressive treatments may be more effective than those used in the past.
- Marginal zone lymphomas: It accounts for about 5% to 10% of lymphomas. The cells in marginal zone lymphomas look small under the microscope.
- Extranodal marginal zone B-cell lymphomas or mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphomas: Most mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphomas arise in the stomach, the lung, skin, thyroid, salivary glands, and tissues surrounding the eye, other than the lymph nodes. Many of these kind of lymphomas have been linked to infections with bacteria or viruses. It is a slow-growing lymphoma and often curable in early stages.
- Nodal marginal zone B-cell lymphoma: This is a rare lymphoma and is found mainly in older women. It tends to be a slow-growing lymphoma, and can be cured in the early stages.
- Splenic marginal zone B-cell lymphoma: This is also a rare lymphoma. Most often the lymphoma is found only in the spleen and bone marrow. Patients are often elderly and male. Usual symptoms are fatigue and discomfort caused by an enlarged spleen. The disease is slow-growing and treatment may not be needed unless the symptoms become troublesome.
- Primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma: This type accounts for about 2% of all lymphomas. The cells are large and resemble those of diffuse large B-cell lymphomas. It starts and locates in the mediastinum and rarely involves the bone marrow. Usual symptoms include trouble breathing. It is a fast growing lymphoma but treatable.
- Burkitt lymphoma: It is named after the doctor who first described this disease in African children and young adults. The cells are medium sized. Close to 90% of patients are male, and the average age is about 30. This is a very fast-growing lymphoma and over half of patients can be cured by intensive chemotherapy.
- Lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma (Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia): This type is not common. The lymphoma cells can make an antibody called immunoglobulin M (IgM). This immunoglobulin M (IgM) can circulate in the blood in large amounts and cause problems with vision and neurological problems. Other symptoms can include feeling tired and weak, and a tendency to bleed easily. This lymphoma grows slowly and most patients live longer than 5 years.
- Hairy cell leukemia: Hairy cell leukemia (HCL) is rare and about 1,000 people in the United States are diagnosed each year. The cells are small B lymphocytes with projections around them which make them looking like a “hairy” appearance. It grows slowly and some patients may never need treatment.
- Primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma: This lymphoma usually involves the brain. This kind of lymphoma is more common in people with immune system problems such as those diagnosed AIDS. Usual symptoms are headaches, confusion, vision problems, paralysis of some facial muscles, and even seizures. The outlook with this condition has always been thought fairly poor.
Where to find medical care for B-cell lymphoma?
Ask our experts on B-cell lymphoma
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Burkitt’s lymphoma
- Hairy cell leukemia