Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Medical Specialties: Internal medicine, Oncology

Clinical Definition

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a group of hematologic malignancies that originate in the lymphocytes. The cancerous lymphocytes multiply and do not function normally, compromising immune system functions. There are many subtypes of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma classified according to whether they arise from T cells or B cells and whether they are indolent or aggressive. 

In Our Own Words

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer, which starts in the body’s cells known as lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that are part of the immune system and help the body fight illness and infection. Lymphocytes are in lymph nodes, bone marrow and the spleen. When non-Hodgkin lymphoma develops, the lymphocytes do not function as they should and grow out of control. Without healthy white blood cells, the body has a hard time fighting infection.


The two main types of lymphocytes are T cells and B cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma may be classified using differing systems, such as what type of lymphocyte is believed to be involved or how aggressively it is growing. 

Relevant Conditions
Common Types
  • B cell lymphomas
  • Diffuse large B cell lymphomas (DLBCL)
Side Effects
  • Painless swelling in a lymph node
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
Share this article
  • National Cancer Institute. “Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.” Accessed September 2013.
  • Cleveland Clinic. “Adult Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.” Accessed September 2013.
  • American Cancer Society. “What is Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma?” Accessed September 2013.
Keep Reading

Investigate your bodys signs and signals.
Try Symptom Checker