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Leukemia Vs. Lymphoma

Leukemia Vs. Lymphoma

If you are searching for information on the difference between leukemia and lymphoma, then you will find the following article very helpful. This article discusses the differences between leukemia and lymphoma in simple words that will help you understand both these blood cancers better.
Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
Last Updated: Jan 21, 2018
Leukemia and lymphoma are types of blood cancers. Both these cancers involve an uncontrolled growth of blood cells that prevent healthy cell development. Lymphoma as well as leukemia involve the immune system. In spite of these similarities, there are many differences between these two diseases. Let us have a look at the information that differentiates between the two blood cancers below so as to understand them individually.
Lymphoma and leukemia are broad terms used to describe different malignant tumors. There are different signs and symptoms experienced by patients suffering from either of the conditions. Below, we shall discuss both leukemia and lymphoma to get a clear idea about both of them.
What is Leukemia?
Leukemia is a cancer of the white blood cells of the blood or bone marrow. It generally starts in the bone marrow and gradually takes over the normal blood cells. This leads to decrease in normal red blood cell, white blood cell and platelet count in the body. When the normal blood cell count falls and cancerous cells increase, it leads to bruising, recurrent infections, anemia, etc. There are basically different types of leukemia based on the cells affected and growth of cancer. Leukemia is divided as acute leukemia and chronic leukemia. In case of acute leukemia, the cancerous cells progress rapidly and the life expectancy is just about 3 to 5 years. Chronic leukemia involves slow growing cancer cells with a patient life expectancy of about 10 to 20 years. Based on the type of cells involved, leukemia is divided as -
  • Acute Myelogenous Leukemia
  • Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia
  • Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
  • Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
There are many more subtypes of acute and chronic forms of lymphocytic and myelogenous leukemia. The bone marrow keeps producing leukemia cells, that are cancerous and do not die. Thus, they remain present in the blood and bone marrow and soon out number normal blood cells. This leads to severe anemia due to lack of red blood cells. A person keeps suffering from recurrent infections due to lack of WBCs and low platelet count leads to easy bruising due to blood clotting problems. A patient with leukemia looks pale, fatigued and weak.
What is Lymphoma?
Lymphoma is the cancer of the lymphatic cells of the immune system. Lymphoma is the third common cancer that occurs in children. The cancer occurs in the lymphatic system that leads to swelling of the lymph nodes. Just like WBCs form a part of immune system, lymphatic system also plays a role in fighting infections against the body. The cancerous cells of the lymphoma form lumps in the skin, guts, bone marrow tissues, leading to formation of solid tumors. When the disease enters the leukemic phase, the lymphoma cells tend to 'spill' into the blood stream. There are two types of lymphoma, the Hodgkin's lymphoma and the non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The cells involved may either be B cells or T cells. Hodgkin's lymphoma is one of the most curable forms of blood cancers. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma consists of many subtypes that are either slow growing or aggressive. When one develops lymphoma then it gives rise to anorexia, fatigue, idiopathic fever, unexplained weight loss, dyspnea, etc. There may be palpable tumors in the body that interfere with body function.
Differences Between Leukemia and Lymphoma
Leukemia Lymphoma
Leukemia is the cancer of the white blood cells of bone marrow. Lymphoma is the cancer of the cells in the lymphatic system.
There are four types of leukemia - acute and chronic myelogenous leukemia as well as acute and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. There are two main types of lymphoma - Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Symptoms of leukemia include severe anemia, easy bruising, fatigue and recurrent infections. Symptoms of lymphoma include fatigue, anorexia, idiopathic fever and palpable tumors.
Leukemia is diagnosed using blood tests and bone marrow examination. Lymphoma is diagnosed by biopsy of the palpable tumors and CT scans.

Both these conditions require chemotherapy and radiotherapy for treatment. Both these blood cancers involve the immune system, yet are different in manifestation. Hope the above information has helped you differentiate between the two diseases clearly.