19 Nov 2013/
Lymphomas are cancers of the white blood cells, cells that are part of the immune system and circulate throughout the body in the lymphatic system. Since there are many different types of white blood cells and many stages to white blood cell development, the term “lymphoma” actually refers to a large group of cancers that includes over 25 different subtypes.
Lymphomas are generally divided into two classes that are characterized by the types of cells affected: Hodgkin lymphoma and non Hodgkin lymphoma. Lymphoma can occur in both adults and children. While Hodkgin lymphoma is more common in children, non Hodgkin lymphoma becomes more common as a person ages. Since the 1970’s non Hodgkin lymphoma has become more frequent. This increase must be due to factors like lifestyle and environment. Although there are no known high risk genes for lymphoma, research suggests certain individuals may also inherit a genetic make-up that makes them more susceptible. Like most cancers, lymphoid tumors develop due to genetic mutations (DNA changes) that allow the cells to escape normal growth restrictions and undergo uncontrolled proliferation. Recent research on lymphoma has focused on profiling these DNA changes in lymphoid tumors to understand how tumors develop and to better target therapies to cancer subtypes.