Lymphoma is a form of cancer that particularly affects white blood cells in the immune system known as lymphocytes. There are two main forms of lymphomas, also known as blood cancers: Hodgkin's Lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL). Here’s what you need to know to distinguish between these two cancers.

NHL is much more common than Hodgkin's disease, and occurs in about 90 percent of all lymphoma cases, according to Medical News Today. In NHL patients, blood cells called lymphocytes begin to grow out of control and grow tumors. These cells are found in the lymph nodes and other lymph tissues, such as the spleen and bone marrow.

NHL includes about 30 different types of cancers; all have tiny differences in the size and characteristics of the cancerous cells, but the most common NHL subtypes are diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, and follicular lymphoma. This disease is most common in people aged 60 and older. It’s also slightly more common in white Americans than other races, and is seen in higher rates in developed nations.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, survival rates for NHL vary widely, depending on the lymphoma type, stage, age of the patient, and other variables. The overall five-year relative survival rate for patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is 67 percent and the 10-year relative survival rate is 55 percent.

Hodgkin's lymphoma, also known as Hodgkin’s disease, is far less common and is diagnosed in only about one percent of all cancers in the United States, reported. Hodgkin's lymphoma differs from NHL in that the cancer cells are usually an abnormal type of B lymphocyte, named Reed-Sternberg cells. Like, NHL, there are many subtypes of Hodgkin's lymphoma which may be differentiated only by looking under a microscope.

Hodgkin's lymphoma more commonly affects people in their 20s and people over the age of 55, and is slightly more common in men. Luckily, Hodgkin's disease is one of the most curable types of cancer, with 5-year survival rates that have steadily increased to about 88 percent in 2004 to 2010. This rate is even higher (about 94 percent) in people under age 45 at the time of diagnosis.

The main symptoms of both NHL and Hodgkin’s disease include enlarged lymph nodes which persist for a long period of time.The enlarged glands can press on organs, bones, and other structures and cause pain. Unfortunately, this can often cause individuals to overlook the main source of their discomfort, and instead blame it on something less insidious, like a simple backache. The Mayo Clinic reported that other symptoms include abdominal pain or swelling, chest pain, fatigue, fever, night sweats, and weight loss.

Treatment for NHL usually includes medical interventions to shrink tumor size, while Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatment often includes short courses of chemotherapy. According to Medicine Net, Both radiation therapy and various chemotherapy drugs have been used with success in the treatment of both Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

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