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Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

This information is about non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer that starts in the immune system. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is also called NHL.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma begins when a lymphocyte (usually a B cell) becomes abnormal. The abnormal cell divides to make copies of itself. The new cells divide again and again, making more and more abnormal cells. The abnormal cells don't die when they should. They don't protect the body from infections or other diseases. The buildup of extra cells often forms a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor.

Because lymphatic tissue is in many parts of the body, Hodgkin lymphoma can start almost anywhere. Usually, it's first found in a lymph node.

When lymphoma is found, the pathologist reports the type. There are many types of lymphoma. The most common types are diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma.

Lymphomas may be grouped by how quickly they are likely to grow:

  • Indolent (also called low-grade) lymphomas grow slowly. They tend to cause few symptoms.
  • Aggressive (also called intermediate-grade and high-grade) lymphomas grow and spread more quickly. They tend to cause severe symptoms. Over time, many indolent lymphomas become aggressive lymphomas.

It’s a good idea to get a second opinion about the type of lymphoma that you have. The treatment plan for NHL varies with the type and stage of lymphoma. A pathologist at a major referral center can review your biopsy. 

Learn more about NHL, including staging and treatment options. 

What to Expect at a Hematology Appointment at VOA

If you've been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and have been referred to a hematologist, learn about what to expect at your hematology visit. Our hematologist walks you through the typical experience as well as other types of tests that may be needed and questions he's often asked. 

The hematologists at Virginia Oncology Associates are experts in diagnosing and treating non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Our blood cancer doctors care for patients at our locations throughout Hampton Roads, Northeast North Carolina, and the surrounding areas.