Lymphoma, the most common type of blood cancer, occurs when white blood cells called lymphocytes reproduce and grow excessively.

The disease can develop in any part of the body. Most commonly the initial site is the lymph nodes, which are crucial parts of the lymphatic and immune system. There are numerous sub-types of lymphomas which are classified according to characteristics, location, or extent.

Lymphoma can be either Hodgkin’s or the more common non-Hodgkin’s. Lymphomas also differ by the cells from which it originates, either B-cells or T-cells;  proteins present on the surface of the lymphoma cells; and the genetic mutations that occur in the cells.

Two grades of non-Hodgkin lymphoma exist: high grade lymphoma which grows quickly, and low grade lymphoma which grows slowly.

Low Grade Lymphoma Development and Risk Factors

Low grade lymphoma, also known as indolent lymphoma, is usually very slow growing and most often incurable, though many patients respond positively to treatment. Low grade lymphomas can be localized in the initial stages, or in severe cases it can spread to different sites. The patient’s treatment choices and quality of life are largely determined by the disease growth and spread.

Types of low grade lymphoma include: follicular lymphoma, mantle cell lymphoma, marginal zone lymphoma, extranodal marginal zone lymphoma, nodal marginal zone lymphoma, splenic marginal zone lymphoma, small lymphocytic lymphoma, lymphoplasmacytic lymphomas, and skin lymphomas.

About 40% of non-Hodgkin lymphoma are classified as low grade. It is more common among older patients and affects men and women almost equally.

Low Grade Lymphoma Symptoms and Diagnosis

Patients with low grade lymphoma usually experience little to no symptoms. The first signs of the disease include swollen but painless lymph nodes. Fever, night sweats, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, bone, abdominal or chest pain, loss of appetite, itching and nausea occur in time.

Because many symptoms can be explained by other illnesses, an early diagnosis can be difficult.

Diagnosis begins when the physician performs a complete physical examination and requests a personal medical and family history. A biopsy to analyze the damaged tissue is usually the next stop. Other tests can include chest, abdomen and pelvis or other computed tomographic (CT) imaging, a chest x-ray, a positron emission tomography (PET) scan, spinal fluid exam, and blood tests to evaluate the type, stage and extent of the lymphoma.

Prevalence and Treatment of Low Grade Lymphoma

Approximately one in every five patients are diagnosed with low grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma in early stages when the disease is localized and the prognosis is encouraging. During the initial phases, the disease is typically limited to one or two groups of lymph nodes and the physician may decide to watch for while. Radiotherapy, an initial stage option, is designed to slow the cancer growth even more.

In cases of advanced low grade non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prospects are not so positive, but not completely hopeless. Treatment aims to control the lymphoma and physician may recommend drug therapies. Some therapies include a monoclonal antibody called rituximab, either alone or with a single chemotherapy drug like bendamustine or fludarabine; or a combination of drugs like CHOP (cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone).

In more severe cases, monoclonal antibodies ibritumomab and tositumomab is administered as second-line therapy.

Note: Lymphoma News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. 
Inês Martins holds a BSc in Cell and Molecular Biology from Universidade Nova de Lisboa and is currently finishing her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at Universidade de Lisboa. Her work has been focused on blood vessels and their role in both hematopoiesis and cancer development.
Inês Martins holds a BSc in Cell and Molecular Biology from Universidade Nova de Lisboa and is currently finishing her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at Universidade de Lisboa. Her work has been focused on blood vessels and their role in both hematopoiesis and cancer development.


  1. Frieda says:

    My husband was diagnosed with Low grade lymphoma 3 years ago and was treated with chemotherapy. A year ago he had his right hip replaced and now has a limp. He seems to lack energy and takes two,sometimes 3 naps during the day. Is this because of the lymphoma? Before his hip surgery, he was fine.

    • Tim Bossie says:

      Hi Frieda. We are sorry to hear that your husband is having problems with energy after his surgery. We can not say for sure what the cause may be, but chemo combined with surgery while battling lymphoma can have many different effects on the body. Talk with your doctor about this, and even consult with other caregivers.

    • Stephen Gillman says:

      Hello Freida , I finished my treatment for stage 4 mantle cell a little over 7 years ago .I am very thankful to be so well .However fatigue and has been a constant challenge ,along with recurring infections .
      I can describe the fatigue as destructive ,and very frustrating.
      My advice is to be patient ,be structured in rest and sleep.Look at rest and sleep in a similar manner as food .Your husband will know when he over extends himself ,i.e. doesn’t get enough daily rest , take in a desclipined manner quantum of rest each day necessary as not to over extend himself,gradually over time he get stronger. In my experience it’s important not to under rest as one literally get more fatigued .
      Kind Regards Stephen

  2. Rajesh Kuruvilla says:

    My pappa had been under rituximab(reditux in India) maintenace for 2years for folli. lymphoma gr.1. 600ml on alternate months. The supposed saving medicine killed him 1month ago. He developed chronic neorological disorder(parkinosonism features),and symptoms got aggressive and pappa’s condition worsened and died within 2-months of starting neuro symptoms. Doctor finally suspected of PML due to JC virus OR CJD virus attack, rituximab side effects, but before the diagnosis pappa left this world. He never ever had any side effects in the past 2-years due to rmab, no hairloss/weight loss/vomiting/headache etc.

  3. Sophie says:

    My dad has low grade non-hodgkins lymphoma and was diagnosed around 10 years ago. He has gone without treatment but has recently been advised to have either chemotherapy or radiotherapy (he cannot remember which bit is going to discuss options on monday). His lymphoma has spread to several areas now and I don’t know what the prognosis would likely be or which treatment would be better for him.

  4. Andrea says:

    A friend of mine has been diagnosed with low-grade Hodgkin lymphoma, does anybody know what triggers it? Is HIV medication a possible cause for the growth of white cells? Thank you

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