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Difference Between Lymphoma and Leukemia

There are different types of cancer and they are typically named after the affected body parts. This illness is renowned for its ability to plague almost every part of the body, including the blood. Lymphoma and Leukemia are different types of blood cancer. However, both of them affect the body in different ways. This piece will highlight the meaning, similarities and differences between Lymphoma and Leukemia. 

What is Lymphoma?

Lymphoma is a health condition that typically affects in the immune system attacking the lymphocytes and lymph nodes. There are two main types of lymphocytes – B cells and T cells. You’ll also discover two types of Lymphoma including the Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

If a person is suffering from Hodgkin lymphoma, it will be possible to view Reed-Sternberg cells in their blood. On the other hand, those suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma will lack these cells in their blood. The non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the most common type of lymphoma. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), there were 90,390 cases of lymphoma in 2021. 

The symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma include fever, weight loss, night sweating, swollen lymph nodes, skin rash, pain in affected areas, and diaphragm diseases. However, symptoms for non-Hodgkin lymphoma includes swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, and symptoms in the digestive tract, lung, liver, kidney, thyroid, brain, testes, skin and bones. 

What is Leukemia?

Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the cells of the bone marrow that are responsible for forming blood. This health condition typically affects the white blood cells. However, they may also affect other blood cells. Additionally, there are leukemia cases in kids and adults. 

You’d do well to note that there are different types of leukemia and they are grouped based on how fast the health condition develops and the type of cells it affects. The types of leukemia include: 

  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)
  • Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
  • Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CNML)
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)

Chronic leukemia refers to a slowly deteriorating condition, while acute means it started suddenly and is developing rapidly. The American Cancer Society revealed that there were 61,090 cases of leukemia in 2021. 

The symptoms of chronic leukemia include bleeding, bruising, and swelling of the lymph nodes, speen and liver. However, the symptoms of acute leukemia include lethargy, swelling of the lymph nodes, speen and liver, fever, bleeding, bruising, bone pain, muscle pain, anemia, and shortness of breath. 

Possible Similarities Between Lymphoma and Leukemia 

The first notable similarity between lymphoma and leukemia is that they are both types of cancer. They also originate in the lymphocytes. Furthermore, lymphoma and leukemia have similar symptoms including weakness, fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, and infections. Lymphoma and leukemia can be treated with  radiotherapy, chemotherapy, stem-cell therapy, targeted therapy, and antibody treatment. 

Difference Between Lymphoma and Leukemia

Lymphoma and leukemia differ in terms of their origin, symptoms and risk factors. You’ll be at risk of lymphoma if you have genetic conditions like Down syndrome and blood disorders, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and Human T-lymphotropic Virus (HLTV). Other risk factors include exposure to petrochemicals, exposure to alkalylating chemotherapy agents and tobacco use. On the other hand, risk factors of leukemia include age, a weak immune system, or presence of any previous infections like the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV). 

Additionally, lymphoma and leukemia originate in the lymphocytes. While lymphoma attacks the lymph nodes and entire lymphatic system, leukemia migrated to the bone marrow and eventually the entire bloodstream. 

Lymphoma vs. Leukemia: Comparison Table


Lymphoma and leukemia are both blood cancers, they have distinct characteristics in terms of their origin, tumor formation, symptom presentation, and treatment approach. Accurate diagnosis by healthcare professionals is essential for determining the appropriate course of treatment and improving outcomes for patients affected by these conditions.


Can lymphoma turn into leukemia?

It’s not uncommon to find blood cancers changing from one type to another. It’s possible for a slow-growing lymphoma to change into acute lymphoblastic leukemia. 

Can lymphoma be completely cured?

Lymphoma can be cured with Hodgkin lymphoma treatment. There’s a 90% chance that the cancer will be treated with this approach. 

Is lymphoma a blood cancer?

Lymphoma refers to a type of blood cancer that affects the immune system. It affects lymphocytes in the human blood. 

How long does lymphoma take to be fatal?

Most people affected by lymphoma can survive for up to 5 years. However, there are patients who live considerably longer. 

What is the survival rate for lymphoma?

The survival rate of Hodgkin lymphoma is 89%. However, the survival rate for stage I non-Hodgkin lymphoma is about 86%. 

Is lymphoma more aggressive than leukemia?

High-grade lymphomas are more aggressive than leukemia and has symptoms such as fevers, night sweating, and weight loss. 

How quickly does lymphoma spread?

The growth rate of lymphoma depends on the type. Indolent lymphoma grows and spreads slowly. On the other hand, aggressive lymphoma grows and spreads quickly. 

Does lymphoma show up in blood work?

While the doctor may request for a blood test to diagnose lymphoma, it doesn’t provide any conclusive evidence. A tissue biopsy is usually needed to determine what’s wrong. 

Who gets lymphoma the most?

Certain types of lymphoma are more common in young adults while others occur in those older than 55 years. Men are also at a higher risk of getting lymphoma than women. 

Can lymphoma be harmless?

Benign lymphoma, also known as pseudo lymphoma, is not a malignant type or cancer. 

What illness can be mistaken for lymphoma?

Illnesses that are commonly mistaken for lymphoma include lymphomatoid papulosis, progressive termination of germinal centres, and histiocytosis. 

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  1. thank you for fresh information….danger disease

  2. Lymphoma are usually NOT painful, not mobile and very firm. a painful lymph node is more of a sign of a reactive hyperplasia =inflammation due to some sort of viral or bacterial infection.

  3. yes i agree with the above poster please correct the article: lymphomas are PAINLESS, painful nodes is indicative of infectious process

    • I think you are wrong I have Primary Bone lymphoma and I can tell you w1th no uncertainty That it IS PAINFUL VERY PAINFUL

  4. This is a very good article, except for the comments as mentioned above. Painful and tender lymphadenopathy as produced by an infectious process is VERY IMPORTANT to distinguish from the painless lymphadenopathy in lymphoma. Please correct this in the article above so other readers do not get confused.

  5. I don’t understand why everyone is saying lymphoma is painless. Maybe for some people, but not always, right? I know someone who developed lymphoma in early elementary school and they had terrible pains in their body.

    • The distinction is that in lymphoma, the lymph nodes are solid but painless. The pain your friend (unfortunately) may have experienced was most probably bone pain, if not other metastatic spread to liver, lung, brain or nerve pain etc which are common in most types of metastatic cancer. But the clinical signature of lymphoma is that the lymph nodes are enlarged, yet painless.

      • Extremelly correct

      • I had Hodgkin’s lymphoma and I had a lump under my arm in the lymph node it was excruciating for pain I was diagnosed at stage 3b and it affects your joints and causes pain I was myered with lymphoma neck chest abdomen spleen under arm pits I think if my lymphoma was caught early I would probably not have pain but over a year to get a diagnosed is bad so I would correct your statement depends how advanced the lymphoma is

  6. “people with lymphoma have painful swelling of the lymph nodes in neck, armpits or groin. Sometimes, these are the only symptoms and they start very early”

    This statement is not entirely true. I’m a resident and more then 2/3 of patients with lymphoma are present with non painful enlargement of their lymph nodes. You should update this. Thanks

  7. thanks jolly,its really true,just started to be confused about it because a consulltant said that the swollen lymph nodes are painless.

  8. “Lymphoma is a solid CLL and CLL is a liquidy lymphoma” ~ Conrad Fischer

  9. I had non-hodgins lymphoma five years ago and no pain but huge lumps in groin. No lymphoma for 4 years but cancer has shown up in both kidneys. Feeling great!

  10. I have had hodgins lymphoma and I was at stage 3b before being diagnosed and had boils that came up on the private’s and they were very painful and a lump under my arm which was very painful and a deep neck abscess and I felt my organs starting to cause problems I had rashes all the time that was that irritant I could not sleep and scratched my skin to bleeding I turned into an old lady shuffling it was total life changing experience


  1. Difference Between Lymphoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma | Difference Between | Lymphoma vs Hodgkin’s lymphoma

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References :

[0]Leukemia vs. Lymphoma: Understanding the Differences. (2022, August 24). Cancer Treatment Centers of America. https://www.cancercenter.com/blood-cancers/leukemia-vs-lymphoma#:~:text=Leukemia%20and%20lymphoma%20are%20easily

[1]Leukemia vs lymphoma: Similarities and differences. (n.d.). Www.medicalnewstoday.com. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321692

[2]Leukemia vs. Lymphoma. (n.d.). Moffitt. https://www.moffitt.org/cancers/lymphomas-hodgkin-and-non-hodgkin/faqs/leukemia-vs-lymphoma/#:~:text=Both%20leukemia%20and%20lymphomas%20originate

[3]Image credit: https://www.canva.com/photos/MADuA6HJtys-medical-form-with-diagnosis-lymphoma-/

[4]Image credit: https://www.canva.com/photos/MAEE0yPXQ4M-leukemia-abstract/

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