Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma - Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Diseases / Research

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

non-hodgkin images

Two types of Non Hodgkin Lymphoma: Follicular Lymphoma (left) is organized into clear follicles or nodules within the lymph node; diffuse lymphoma (right) consists of cancerous cells that infiltrate the lymph node in a homogeneous pattern.

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Fred Hutch scientists are leaders in developing new therapies for non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Our researchers are developing drugs and immunotherapies to treat lymphomas, and are also finding new ways to make treatments less toxic.

Our scientists are researching many types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma including small lymphocytic lymphoma; follicular lymphoma; marginal zone lymphoma, mantle cell lymphoma; diffuse large B-cell lymphoma; Burkitt lymphoma; AIDS-related B-cell lymphoma; peripheral T-cell lymphoma and adult T-cell lymphoma.

Fast Facts

  • Lymphomas are a group of cancers that strike the lymphatic system, an essential component of the body's immune system. Lymphomas are characterized by how they develop, respond to treatment and other factors.
  • There are several types of non-Hodgkin lymphomas. They are characterized as either aggressive (fast-growing) or indolent (slow-growing) types, and they can be formed from either B-cells or T-cells.
  • Some non-Hodgkin lymphomas are caused by infections from viruses including HIV, hepatitis C and Epstein-Barr. A weakened immune system can also contribute to the development of non-Hodgkin lymphomas.
  • The National Cancer Institute estimates that in 2011 there were more than 66,000 new cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma reported in the United States.

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Prevention & Causes

New approaches to Burkitt lymphoma – Dr. Corey Casper and colleagues at the UCI/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance are developing new ways to prevent and treat Burkitt lymphoma, which usually affects children and young adults. Burkitt lymphoma is among the 20 percent of cancers that are caused by infectious diseases and is particularly prevalent in developing countries. Casper and collaborators are identifying the infectious diseases that cause cancer and understanding how they are acquired; developing ways to prevent or cure these diseases; cultivating approaches that could slash treatment costs; and training a new generation of oncologists to care for patients in low-resource countries. Learn more >

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Treatment & Prognosis

Developing therapies for follicular lymphomaDr. Oliver Press and colleagues developed a therapy for follicular lymphoma, a slow-growing form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that is usually diagnosed at an advanced, incurable stage. The treatment consists of six cycles of a four-drug chemotherapy regimen for lymphoma, followed by treatment with Bexxar, the trade name for a radioactively-tagged antibody, to destroy cancer cells. Learn more >

Spearheading new medications — Our researchers pioneered use of an antibody to treat some forms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Work by Dr. David Maloney was instrumental in developing Rituximab, the first medication of its kind approved in the United States for treating malignant disease—and the one of the best-selling anticancer drugs. About half of patients treated with this drug see their cancers go into remission.

Listen to a webcast with Dr. David Maloney >

Making treatments less toxic — Dr. Ajay Gopal and colleagues have discovered new ways to target treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma that reduces damage in healthy tissue. Using radioactively tagged proteins that bind to tumors, physicians can deliver very high doses of radiation that minimize damage to surrounding healthy cells. The treatment is particulary safer and more effective for elderly patients. Learn more >

Pioneering bone marrow transplantation – Led by Nobel Prize recipient Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, Fred Hutch researchers have transformed bone marrow transplantation into standard treatment for leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers. The procedure is one of cancer treatment's biggest success stories and has saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients. Learn more >

Reducing radiation in transplants — By minimizing the radiation patients receive before their bone marrow transplant, Hutch researchers have helped make this life-saving procedure less available to more patients, with similar results as traditional bone marrow transplants. Learn more >

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Improving Survival

Understanding chemobrain – Research by Dr. Karen Syrjala shows that the decline in mental skills experienced by many bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients is largely temporary. Patients who experience these symptoms usually return to normal mental function with a year of their transplant, and will continue to improve long-term. Learn more >

A bright future for survivors – A study by Dr. Syrjala shows that, after 10 years, many survivors of stem cell transplants are nearly as healthy as people who didnt undergo the procedure. Both populations had similar rates of asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and osteoporosis. They also had similar psychological health, marital satisfaction and employment. Learn more >

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