There are several types of lymphomas and classification is based on differences among them: by origin, by location or by connection with other important organs . This is an essential aspect because depending on the specific type, the aggressiveness of the lymphoma and prognosis are different.
However, a simple classification could be:
Hodgkin's lymphoma: It is characterized by the appearance of lymph nodes in different parts, mainly the thorax. With an adequate treatment, the prognosis is usually good.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma A group of over 30 different diseases that can be grouped as follows:
It is important to note that when we mention the aggressiveness of a lymphoma, we refer to the intrinsic malignant character thereof, not necessarily to the extent of the disease. Thus, indolent lymphoma has usually spread but it still has a quite favourable prognosis. Aggressive lymphomas usually respond to the treatment and can be cured.
- Aggressive lymphomas
These represent approximately half of all the non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. Their rate of growth is very rapid. They are characterized by lymph node inflammation, but they can also infiltrate other organs as metastasis. In spite of their clinical aggressiveness, they are more sensitive to treatment than indolent lymphomas, so that most of them can be cured with the proper treatment.
- Indolent lymphomas
They represent approximately 40% of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. Their rate of growth and aggressiveness is low, but they have usually spread considerably by the time of the diagnosis. They need to be continually monitored by a doctor because in some cases, they become aggressive. Although patients with indolent lymphoma can live many years, this lymphoma can, paradoxically, be difficult to cure.
- Highly aggressive lymphomas
These represent approximately 10% of all non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. The rate of tumour cell growth is very rapid, so that the number of cells (and, thus, the mass of the tumour) may double within 24 hours. They are equivalent to acute leukemia, therefore require radical and immediate treatment. In addition to the lymph node inflammations, other organs such as the bone marrow and the nervous system may also become affected.