Leukemia Lymphoma

Both lymphoma and leukemia are diseases that affect the immune system and the blood cells. While there are some similarities between the two types of cancer, there are also significant differences in how each disease develops and spreads.

What Is Lymphoma?

What is lymphoma, exactly? Lymphoma is a cancer that affects the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system. The lymphatic system transports white blood cells called lymphocytes in a fluid called lymph. Lymph nodes are small nodules found throughout the body that filter impurities out of the lymph fluid.

Lymphoma develops when lymphocytes change into cancerous lymphoma cells that grow and multiply rapidly. Lymphoma cells congregate around lymph nodes, the spleen or the tonsils, where they form tumors. Swollen lymph nodes are some of the earliest noticeable lymphoma symptoms.

In addition to swollen lymph nodes, lymphoma symptoms include nonspecific signs such as:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Itching
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss.

Because the lymphatic system transports cells through lymph, lymphoma cells sometimes travel from one lymph node to another, spreading the disease through the lymphatic system and into other organ systems and tissues.

Lymphoma and Leukemia

What Is Leukemia?

Leukemia, like lymphoma, is a blood cancer. Like lymphoma, leukemia can develop in lymphocytes. Leukemia can also develop from myelogenous cells, which develop into red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

The primary leukemia/lymphoma difference has to do with the disease’s location. While lymphoma affects the lymphatic system, leukemia begins in the bone marrow where blood cells are created. Abnormal blood cells are created, enter the circulatory system and eventually crowd out healthy blood cells. Leukemia can be acute, causing the rapid accumulation of leukemia cells in the blood, or chronic, with the cancer developing slowly over a period of years.

Unlike lymphoma, leukemia doesn’t cause tumors. Instead, the cancerous cells become the dominant type of cell in the blood, outliving normal blood cells and multiplying at faster rates.

Leukemia shares some symptoms with lymphoma. Like lymphoma, leukemia can produce symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Night sweats.

Differentiating between leukemia and lymphoma is important, as the two diseases progress in different ways. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are used to treat both cancers. The goal of both lymphoma and leukemia treatment is the complete remission of the cancer, with healthy blood cells replacing the cancerous cells.


Crota, P. (2009). What is lymphoma? Lymphoma symptoms, causes and treatments. Retrieved March 16, 2010, from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/146136.php.

Difference Between. (2009). Difference between lymphoma and leukemia. Retrieved March 16, 2010, from http://www.differencebetween.net/science/health/difference-between-lymphoma-and-leukemia/.

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. (2010). Leukemia. Retrieved March, 16, 2010, from http://www.leukemia-lymphoma.org/all_page?item_id=7026.

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. (2009). Lymphoma. Retrieved March 16, 2010, from http://www.leukemia-lymphoma.org/all_page?item_id=7030.