Lymphoma: Diagnosis and Treatment

Am Fam Physician. 2020 Jan 1;101(1):34-41.


Lymphoma is a group of malignant neoplasms of lymphocytes with more than 90 subtypes. It is traditionally classified broadly as non-Hodgkin or Hodgkin lymphoma. Approximately 82,000 new U.S. patients are diagnosed with lymphoma annually. Any tobacco use and obesity are major modifiable risk factors, with genetic, infectious, and inflammatory etiologies also contributing. Lymphoma typically presents as painless adenopathy, with systemic symptoms of fever, unexplained weight loss, and night sweats occurring in more advanced stages of the disease. An open lymph node biopsy is preferred for diagnosis. The Lugano classification system incorporates symptoms and the extent of the disease as shown on positron emission tomography/computed tomography to stage lymphoma, which is then used to determine treatment. Chemotherapy treatment plans differ between the main subtypes of lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is treated with CHOP (cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone) with or without rituximab (R-CHOP), bendamustine, and lenalidomide. Hodgkin lymphoma is treated with combined chemotherapy with ABVD (doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine), Stanford V (a chemotherapy regimen consisting of mechlorethamine, doxorubicin, vinblastine, vincristine, bleomycin, etoposide, and prednisone), or BEACOPP (bleomycin, etoposide, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, procarbazine, and prednisone) with radiotherapy. Subsequent chemotherapy toxicities include neuropathy, cardiotoxicity, and secondary cancers such as lung and breast, and should be considered in the shared decision-making process to select a treatment regimen. Once remission is achieved, patients need routine surveillance to monitor for complications and relapse, in addition to age-appropriate screenings recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Patients should receive a 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine followed by a 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine at least eight weeks later with additional age-appropriate vaccinations because lymphoma is an immunosuppressive condition. Household contacts should also be current with their immunizations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Biopsy
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma / diagnosis*
  • Lymphoma / drug therapy*
  • Lymphoma / mortality
  • Lymphoma / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Antineoplastic Agents