In lymphoma, lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) start to multiply in the wrong way. These abnormal cells grow out of control and become cancer. They take over so there’s more lymphoma (cancer) cells than normal lymphocytes.

Lymphoma interrupts the normal working of the lymphatic and immune system. It’s much harder for your body to fight infection.

Lymphomas are in one of two categories.

They are either non-Hodgkin lymphoma or the less common Hodgkin lymphoma.

What to expect

Read our Patient Guide

Understand tests and treatments for leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Download the guide to read online or print. 

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

The 5-year survival rate of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in Australia has significantly improved in the past 25 years.

Treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma depends on whether it is indolent or aggressive. Aggressive lymphoma needs urgent treatment because it grows quickly. Indolent lymphoma grows slowly. Some people may not experience any symptoms of indolent lymphoma before diagnosis. 

Symptoms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma 

Most people will experience swollen (larger) lymph nodes that don’t hurt. Lymph nodes are in the neck, armpits, abdomen (tummy) and groin.  

Other less common symptoms include: 

  • fever higher than 38°C 
  • extreme sweating at night 
  • weight loss with no explanation.

Read more: How is lymphoma diagnosed?

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma sub-types

Genomic testing may tell your doctor more about your lymphoma sub-type.

Please contact us or speak with your Epworth doctor for more information. 

Hodgkin lymphoma

Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of lymphoma with Reed-Sternberg cells present. It is most common in young adults and men. About 800 people in Australia will receive a diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma this year.

Symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma 

Most people with Hodgkin lymphoma experience swollen (larger) lymph nodes in the side and back of the neck. Some people experience swelling in the armpit or groin.

Other less common symptoms include: 

  • fever higher than 38°C 
  • fatigue  
  • feeling itchy
  • extreme sweating at night
  • itching or pain after drinking alcohol
  • weight loss with no explanation. 

Referral for lymphoma

If you’re worried about symptoms, speak to your general practitioner (GP) first. They can assess symptoms, order tests and refer you to a blood cancer specialist (haematologist) if recommended.

Ask your GP for a referral to one of our leading Epworth haematologists in East Melbourne, Box Hill, Geelong and Richmond through the Epworth Centre for Immunotherapies and Snowdome Laboratories, a blood cancer centre of excellence.

Learn more about blood cancer care at Epworth and referrals for patients.

Learn more

Learn more

Read the Blood Cancer Patient Guide

This guide shares what you can expect when receiving blood cancer care.

Download the guide
Learn more

The treatment pathway

Information about watch and wait, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapies and clinical trials.
Learn more

Clinical trials and research, closer to home

Clinical trials test the safety and performance of new medications and treatments.