Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphocytes, a type of cell that forms part of the immune system. Typically, lymphomas present as a solid tumor of lymphoid cells. Treatment might involve chemotherapy and in some cases radiotherapy and/or bone marrow transplantation, and can be curable depending on the histology, type, and stage of the disease. These malignant cells often originate in lymph nodes, presenting as an enlargement of the node (a tumor). It can also affect other organs in which case it is referred to as extranodal lymphoma. Extranodal sites include the skin, brain, bowels and bone. Lymphomas are closely related to lymphoid leukemias, which also originate in lymphocytes but typically involve only circulating blood and the bone marrow (where blood cells are generated in a process termed haematopoesis) and do not usually form static tumors. There are many types of lymphomas, and in turn, lymphomas are a part of the broad group of diseases called hematological neoplasms.
Thomas Hodgkin published the first description of lymphoma in 1832, specifically of the form named after him, Hodgkin's lymphoma. Since then, many other forms of lymphoma have been described, grouped under several proposed classifications. The 1982 Working formulation classification became very popular. It introduced the category non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), divided into 16 different diseases. However, because these different lymphomas have little in common with each other, the NHL label is of limited usefulness for doctors or patients and is slowly being abandoned. The latest classification by the WHO (2008) lists 70 different forms of lymphoma divided in four broad groups.
Although older classifications referred to histiocytic lymphomas, these are recognized in newer classifications as of B, T or NK cell lineage. True histiocytic malignancies are rare and are classified as sarcomas.
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