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Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a general term for a group of cancers that originate in the lymph system. The two main kinds of lymphoma are Hodgkin lymphoma, which spreads in an orderly manner from one group of lymph nodes to another; and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which spreads through the lymphatic system in a non-orderly manner. Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma can occur in children, teens, and adults.

What Causes Lymphoma?

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma becomes more common as people get older. Unlike most cancers, rates of Hodgkin lymphoma are highest among teens and young adults (ages 15 to 39 years) and again among older adults (ages 75 years or older). White people are more likely than black people to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and men are more likely than women to develop lymphoma.

Scientists do not fully understand all of the causes of lymphoma, but research has found many links. For example—

  • Research has shown that people who are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are at much higher risk of developing lymphoma.
  • Other viruses, such as human T-cell lymphotrophic virus and Epstein Barr virus, also have been linked with certain kinds of lymphoma.
  • People exposed to high levels of ionizing radiation have a higher risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Family history has been linked with a higher risk of Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Some studies suggest that specific ingredients in herbicides and pesticides may be linked with lymphoma, but scientists don’t know how much is needed to raise the risk of developing lymphoma.

Symptoms of Lymphoma

Symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma include swollen lymph nodes, especially in the part of the body where the lymphoma starts to grow. Other symptoms include fever, night sweats, feeling tired, and weight loss.

These symptoms can also come from other conditions. If you have any of them, talk to your doctor.

Statistics

In the United States in 2013 (the most recent year for which numbers are available)—

  • 72,955 people (40,056 men and 32,899 women) were diagnosed with lymphoma, and 21,203 people (11,801 men and 9,402 women) died from it.*
  • 8,233 people (4,574 men and 3,659 women) were diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, and 1,090 people (633 men and 457 women) died from it.*
  • 64,722 people (35,482 men and 29,240 women) were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and 20,113 people (11,168 men and 8,945 women) died from it.*

Among men—

  • White men had the highest rate of getting lymphoma (25.8 per 100,000 men), followed by Hispanic† men (22.2), black men (19.5), Asian/Pacific Islander men (17.0), and American Indian/Alaska Native men (11.5).
  • Black men had the highest rate of getting Hodgkin lymphoma (3.1), followed by white men (3.0), Hispanic† men (2.7), Asian/Pacific Islander men (1.5), and American Indian/Alaska Native men (1.2).
  • White men had the highest rate of getting non-Hodgkin lymphoma (22.9), followed by Hispanic† men (19.5), black men (16.4), Asian/Pacific Islander men (15.5), and American Indian/Alaska Native men (10.3).

Among women—

  • White women had the highest rate of getting lymphoma (18.1 per 100,000 women), followed by Hispanic† women (16.6), black women (14.0), Asian/Pacific Islander women (10.9), and American Indian/Alaska Native women (10.2).
  • White women had the highest rate of getting Hodgkin lymphoma (2.3), followed by black women (2.2), Hispanic† women (2.0), Asian/Pacific Islander women (0.9), and American Indian/Alaska Native women (0.8).
  • White women had the highest rate of getting non-Hodgkin lymphoma (15.8), followed by Hispanic† women (14.6), black women (11.8), Asian/Pacific Islander women (10.0), and American Indian/Alaska Native women (9.4).

*Incidence counts cover about 99% of the U.S. population; death counts cover about 100% of the U.S. population. Use caution when comparing incidence and death counts.

Hispanic origin is not mutually exclusive from race categories (white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native).

Data source: U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2013 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute; 2016. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/uscs.

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