This section is intended for members of the public. If you have been prescribed ADCETRIS click here. If you are a UK healthcare professional click here.

Lymphoma Information & Support

Information for members of the public

Further information about Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) is available via the NHS Choices website

Further information about systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma (sALCL) and cutaneous T-Cell lymphoma (CTCL) is available on the NHS Choices Website

There are also charities and support groups for those living with HL, sALCL or CTCL.

What is lymphoma?

Lymphomas are cancers of the lymphatic system and approximately 19,000 people are newly diagnosed in the UK each year. Lymphoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK and is the most common blood cancer.

The lymphatic system is a network of lymphatic vessels, glands (lymph nodes) and organs responsible for draining waste products and excess fluid from the body and for carrying white blood cells (lymphocytes) around the body to help fight infection. Lymphoma develops when some of the white blood cells grow out of control and collect in lymph nodes and other parts of the body to form tumours.

Types of lymphoma

Lymphoma can be divided into two major groups: Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

What is Hodgkin lymphoma (HL)?

Although HL is less common than NHL, there are still over 2,000 people each year diagnosed in the UK. This type of lymphoma can be identified by the presence of a particular type of cell known as the Reed Sternberg cell.

HL is more commonly diagnosed in men than women and often affects younger people in the prime of life. It is most common in those aged 15 to 35 years old and over the age of 60.

What is non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)?

The more common of the two, NHL, is diagnosed in around 17,000 people in the UK each year and is more common in those aged over 55.

NHL can be sub-divided into further types of lymphoma based on the type of lymphocyte they develop from: B-cell or T-cell lymphomas.

Symptoms of lymphoma?

The symptoms of lymphoma can include a painless lump or swelling of the lymph node in the neck, armpit or groin, heavy night sweats, high temperature or fever, loss of appetite, weight loss for no reason, feeling very tired all the time, itchy skin and skin rash.

As lymphoma can be found in different parts or organs of the body, different types of symptoms can be experienced. For example, lymphoma in the bowel or stomach can cause abdominal pain, indigestion and diarrhoea.

Having 1 or more of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have lymphoma; there are many other reasons that you may have these symptoms but visit your GP should you have any concerns.


When a patient presents with an unidentified painless lump, their GP will examine them and if they have concerns the GP will refer them to a specialist. The specialist may be a haematologist or oncologist.

The first step in diagnosis is removal of all or part of the lump (biopsy) for further investigation. This test removes a sample of cells from an enlarged lymph node and looks at them closely under a microscope in the laboratory. These tests can help to stage the lymphoma. This means finding out its size and if it has spread anywhere else.


Current treatment for lymphoma includes chemotherapy, radiotherapy, steroids, targeted therapies (including antibody therapy), high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplants (SCT), and is dependent on both the type, grade and stage of the disease.

  • Chemotherapy is used to stop the lymphoma cells from dividing and can be made up of several combinations of chemotherapy drugs, which are usually abbreviated using their first letters e.g. ABVD, CHOP
  • Radiotherapy is targeted to the lymphoma cells using high-energy X-rays, stopping the cells from dividing
  • Steroids kill the lymphoma cells and can often be given with chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy targets and destroys specific cancer cells in the body
  • High-dose chemotherapy is given prior to a stem cell transplant (SCT) to kill off lymphoma cells but in doing so also destroys the stem cells that are responsible for making new blood cells. Receiving a SCT, following high-dose chemotherapy, helps your body recover and produce new blood cells
  • There are two types of stem cell transplant (SCT); an autologous SCT and an allogeneic SCT. An autologous SCT involves a patient’s own stem cells being put back into the body. An allogeneic SCT involves the transplantation of stem cells from a suitable matched donor

In some patients their disease does not respond to (refractory) or returns (relapses), sometimes several times, following initial treatment.

Help and support from charities

These charities can give you information, practical advice and support about living with Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma (sALCL) or cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL):

Lymphoma Action

Lymphoma Action

0808 808 5555



0808 2080 888

Leukaemia Care

Leukaemia Care

0808 801 0444

ADCETRIS (brentuximab vedotin) is subject to additional monitoring. This will allow quick identification of new safety information.
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