Lymphoma cancer is a cancer of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a very important part of the immune system.

This page gives information about:


What happens if you are referred to us

Ways we treat it

The support that we can offer

Who we are

Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system (an important part of the immune system ). There are 2 broad type of lymphoma, which are Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). There are a number of different types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Lymphomas are diagnosed from a biopsy (sample of tissue) from a lymph node or other organ. The tissue sample is then sent for tests. Biopsies are usually carried out with local anaesthetic. However, general anaesthetic (where you are put to ‘sleep’) is required if the lymph node is not accessible.

Lymph nodes are present throughout the body and are a very important of the immune system. They most commonly become enlarged because of infection. Rarely, lymph node enlargement is caused by lymphoma.

What we do

Support - every step of the way - Specialist lymphoma nurses stay with you throughout your treatment journey, from your first clinic appointment to aftercare. They’re there to help with problems and questions you or your family may have.

A treatment plan that’s right for you - Specialists from different medical areas meet weekly. This is called a multi-disciplinary team meeting (MDT) and is central to the way we work. The MDT advises, supports and creates treatment plans that are personalised for every patient.

Access to the latest treatments - Clinical trials are vital in the fight against lymphoma. Our trials programme makes the latest treatments available to patients – often giving them a better outcome.

Research-driven care - As a university hospital, we lead research into lymphoma diagnosis, treatment and prevention. We regularly publish research papers that help in the fight against cancer.

If you are diagnosed with a Lymphoma

The usual next step is to ‘stage’ the disease. This is the process of finding out how extensive the lymphoma is. We decide the stage when all tests have been completed.

Staging tests include:

  • CT or PET/CT scans: These may be used to check if these organs are involved by the leukaemia
  • Bone marrow biopsy: A small sample of your bone marrow is examined under a microscope. The biopsy is usually carried out under a local anaesthetic (meaning you don’t go to sleep). . The procedure is quick – taking 15 minutes.. You may have bruising for a few days after
  • Bloods tests

The most common staging system for lymphoma is called the Ann Arbor system. The stages are as follows

  • Stage 1: the lymphoma is limited to one group of lymph nodes.
  • Stage 2: two lymph node groups are affected, either above or below the diaphragm (a muscle in the centre of your chest used in breathing).
  • Stage 3: the lymphoma has spread to lymph node groups that are both above and below the diaphragm.
  • Stage 4: the lymphoma is present in organs outside of the lymphatic system, such as the liver, bone marrow or lungs.

Making a decision – support

The specialist lymphoma nurse is there to help you with the decision making process. The nurse acts as your key-worker and is your first point of contact for any questions you may have

Being referred to us

Your GP will refer you to the hospital if you show symptoms that need further investigation. These include:

  • painless swelling in the neck, armpit or groin
  • unexplained persistent drenching night sweats and weight loss
  • unexplained fever
  • trouble getting rid of infection

What happens when you see us

Our team of lymphoma experts will see you within two weeks of receiving an urgent referral from your doctor.

We will assess you and perform some tests to determine if you may have lymphoma. This may involve a biopsy (sample of tissue from a lymph node or other organ), scans, and bloode tests.

Lymphoma treatment

Your test results are discussed by the multi-disciplinary team (MDT). This is a team of doctors and health professionals who specialise in different aspects of treating lymphoma.

What happens next

The type and length of treatment depends on the exact type of lymphoma, and the person affected.

Treatment depends on how the lymphoma is behaving. Some lymphomas don’t show any symptoms and don’t need immediate treatment. However, faster growing lymphomas are treated using the following methods.

  • Chemotherapy - Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer. The type of chemotherapy you receive will depend on the type of your lymphoma. Chemotherapy can either be given by drip (intravenous), injection, or tablets.
  • .

Most types of chemotherapy for lymphoma are given in the hospital on an out-patient basis. Each treatment is called a cycle. This means that you don’t have to stay in the hospital overnight. Patients then get to stay at home to recover between cycles. The recovery time between cycles depends on the type of chemotherapy.

Radiotherapy: This uses radiation to kill cancer cells It can be given in combination with chemotherapy. Radiotherapy is carried out at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.

Steroids are used in combination with chemotherapy for some types of lymphoma. Research shows that steroids make chemotherapy more effective.

Monoclonal antibody therapy:. Monoclonal antibodies are special medicines designed to recognise specific cancer cells and then destroy them. One of the most commonly used medicines is called rituximab.

Other targeted therapies: These are other new treatments that are specific for certain types of lymphoma. They often have less side effects than chemotherapy.

Bone marrow and stem cell transplant - Bone marrow or stem cell transplantation is a possible alternative if you do not respond to treatment for lymphoma. For some patients, a transplant may offer the best chance of cure.

More information

Clinical Trials

You may be asked to take part in a clinical trial. Clinical trials help us learn more about the best way to treat specific conditions.

The Team

The MDT give advice on treatment options that would benefit you the most. Of course, you have the final decision about the treatment you receive. Members of the MDT include:

  • Consultant Haematologist - an expert in blood cancers, lymphoma and chemotherapy
  • Specialist registrar - a senior doctor who is training to be a consultant haematologist
  • Consultant Clinical Oncologist - an expert in radiotherapy
  • Pathologist - a specialist in the study of diseased tissue.
  • Pharmacist
  • Counsellor
  • A specialist lymphoma nurse.

Related links

Visit the MacMillan Cancer website here

Visit the Cancer Research UK website here

Visit the NHS Choices - Cancer website here

Visit the Bloodwise website here

Visit the CLL Support Association website here