Lymphomas are cancers of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system fights infections and drains excess fluid from body tissues. Non-Hodgkins lymphoma is a general name given to many types of cancer that develop from white blood cells, called lymphocytes, in your lymphatic system. Non-Hodgkins lymphoma is different from Hodgkins lymphoma, a related type of cancer.

In general, non-Hodgkins lymphomas are divided into categories: highly aggressive, aggressive, and low grade. They may also be described by the type of cells found within the lymphoma or the pattern of growth within the tissue.

The Lymphatic System

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Lymphoma occurs when lymph cells, or lymphocytes, divide uncontrollably. Normally, cells divide in a regulated manner. However, if cells keep dividing uncontrollably when new cells are not needed, a mass of tissue forms. This is called a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to malignant tumors, which can invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body.

The cause of non-Hodgkins lymphoma is unknown.