There are many different subtypes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. These subtypes are categorized by the characteristics of the lymphoma cells, including their appearance, their genetic features, the presence of proteins on the surface of the cells, and how fast (or slow) they progress. Knowing which subtype has been diagnosed is very important as it affects the type of treatment used.
Follicular lymphoma is the most common type of indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It is a very slow-growing type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that begins in B lymphocytes. It affects the lymph nodes and may spread to the bone marrow or spleen. Most patients diagnosed with follicular lymphoma are aged 50 or older. Follicular lymphoma may go away without treatment. The patient is closely watched for signs or symptoms that the disease has come back. Treatment is needed if signs or symptoms occur after the cancer disappears or after initial cancer treatment. Sometimes follicular lymphoma can become a more aggressive type of lymphoma, such as diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.
Other NHL subtypes that are slow-growing include:
Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is the most common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It grows quickly in the lymph nodes and often the spleen, liver, bone marrow, or other organs are also affected. Signs and symptoms of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma may include fever, drenching night sweats, and weight loss. These are also called B symptoms.
Other aggressive NHL subtypes include:
Sometimes, a non-Hodgkin lymphoma starts only in the skin (not in other organs or tissues). Although not a type of skin cancer, it is called skin lymphoma (or cutaneous lymphoma).
Cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCLs) are the most common type of skin lymphoma. These skin lymphomas often appear as a red and dry rash and can affect widespread parts of the body. While the disease can affect women, it is most commonly found among men in their 40s, 50s, and 60s.
There are several subtypes of CTCL, which include:
Cutaneous B-cell lymphomas (CBCLs) are less common. They can cause lumps in the skin, usually in one or two areas of the body. There are 4 subtypes of CBCLs, which include: