Lymphoma Facts and Statistics: What You Need to Know

Lymphoma is the seventh most common cancer in the United States

Lymphoma is a common cancer of white blood cells. These cells live in the lymphatic system or the skin. When they become cancerous, they can form solid tumors. 

The most common category of lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), is the seventh most common cancer in the United States. Hodgkin lymphoma, the other main category of lymphomas, is the 27th most common cancer in the United States.

Together, there are almost 90,000 new cases of lymphoma diagnosed every year. It was estimated that lymphomas would kill 21,170 people in 2022.

This article will highlight important facts and statistics you should know about lymphoma, including how common it is, who is at risk, causes, early detection, and mortality.

Person being examined by healthcare provider for swollen lymph nodes and symptoms of lymphoma

stefanamer / Getty Images

Lymphoma Overview

White blood cells called B cells and T cells live in the lymphatic system and patrol the body for invaders. The lymphatic system is a system of vessels and tissues that covers the entire body.

Lymphatic vessels transport lymph (composed of fluid, substances, and cells) throughout the body. The lymphatic system's organs (spleen, thymus gland, and bone marrow) and lumps of tissue (lymph nodes, adenoids, and tonsils) help clean the lymph and mount an immune response to invading germs.

Lymphomas start when changes called mutations occur in the DNA of white blood cells. These mutations make the cells grow out of control and clump together, forming solid tumors. These tumors can form in the tissues or organs of the lymphatic system or in the skin itself. 

There are two main types of lymphoma—Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is about 10 times more common than Hodgkin lymphoma.

Hodgkin lymphoma and NHL develop in the B cells and T cells of the lymphatic system. Hodgkin lymphoma most often starts in the body's B cells, which make antibodies, special proteins that label germs.

In the most common type of Hodgkin lymphoma, a mutated B cell becomes what is called a Reed-Sternberg cell. This type of cancer cell recruits healthy cells, which clump around them, causing swelling in the lymph nodes while helping the Reed-Sternberg cells grow.

Non-Hodgkin lymphomas develop in both the B cells and T cells of the body. They don't have Reed-Sternberg cells. There are many types, which can be aggressive or slow-growing. They're classified based on:

  • Where the tumor started
  • How unusual the cancer cells look in the lab
  • What proteins the cancer cells make
  • Genetic changes to the cells

Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas are treated differently. This is because these two types of lymphoma react differently to treatments and have different survival rates. They grow and spread in unique ways.

How Common Is Lymphoma?

Lymphomas are fairly common. Most lymphomas are NHL, the most common type of white blood cell cancer of the lymphatic system. It encompasses 25 types of lymphoma, including lymphoma of the skin.

Facts related to NHL in the United States include:

  • Out of every 100,000 Americans, 19 will be diagnosed with NHL yearly.
  • About 5.3 out of 100,000 people will die from NHL. 
  • Only about 2.1% of people will get NHL during their lifetime. 
  • In 2019, about 763,400 people were living with NHL. 
  • It was estimated there would be about 80,470 new cases of NHL in the United States in 2022 (4.2% of new cancer cases). 
  • It was estimated there would be about 20,250 deaths from NHL in the United States in 2022 (3.3% of cancer deaths).
  • New cases of NHL fell on average 1% per year between 2010 and 2019. 
  • Death rates fell on average 2.2% per year between 2010 and 2019.

The other type of lymphoma is Hodgkin, which is about 10 times less common than NHL. Hodgkin lymphoma is the 27th most common cancer in the United States.

Facts about Hodgkin lymphoma in the United States include:

  • Out of every 100,000 Americans, 2.6 will be diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma yearly.
  • About 0.3 out of 100,000 will die from Hodgkin lymphoma. 
  • Only about 0.2% of people will get Hodgkin lymphoma during their lifetime. 
  • In 2019, only 218,740 people were living with Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • It was estimated there would be about 8,540 new cases of Hodgkin lymphoma in the United States in 2022 (0.4% of new cancer cases). 
  • It was estimated there would only be about 920 deaths from Hodgkin lymphoma in the United States in 2022 (0.2% of cancer deaths).
  • New cases of Hodgkin lymphoma fell on average 1.6% per year between 2010 and 2019. 
  • Death rates fell on average 4.5% per year between 2010 and 2019.

Lymphoma by Ethnicity and Gender

Slightly more males than females are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. Most types of NHL are more common in males, but certain types of NHL are more common in females.

Lymphomas are more common among White Americans than other populations and are more common in developed vs. underdeveloped nations, specifically the United States and the countries of Europe. This geographic distribution may be due to the prevalence of certain infections that increase the risk of lymphoma in these parts of the world.

Lymphoma by Age

Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma differ in one major aspect—at what age they commonly develop. Some types of NHL (for example, Burkitt lymphoma) occur in children, but most develop during the later years of life—a person’s 60s and 70s.

On the other hand, Hodgkin lymphoma can occur in adults and children but is most often diagnosed among young adults. The average age for receiving a Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis is 39, and it is most often diagnosed in people between 20 and 34.

Causes of Lymphoma and Risk Factors

Risk factors for non-Hodgkin lymphoma include:

Risk factors for Hodgkin lymphoma include:

  • Having contracted the virus that causes mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr virus)
  • Having siblings or other close family members who have had Hodgkin lymphoma as young people
  • A weakened immune system from infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), medicines to suppress the immune system, or an autoimmune disease

What Are the Mortality Rates for Lymphoma?

The mortality rates for lymphomas are pretty good. Overall, 73.8% of people diagnosed with NHL are alive five years later. For Hodgkin lymphoma, 89.1% are alive five years after diagnosis.

In the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program database, lymphomas are divided by how far they've spread in the body into four stages:

  • Stage 1 lymphoma is found in just a single area of the body.
  • Stage 2 lymphoma has spread to multiple areas.
  • Stage 3 lymphoma appears on both sides of the diaphragm. 
  • Stage 4 lymphoma has spread throughout the body.
  • Unknown cancers are unstaged, meaning their stage isn't known.
Five-Year Survival Rate for Lymphomas
Stage Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma   Hodgkin Lymphoma
All 73.8% 89.1%
1 86.5% 92.4%
2 78.1% 95%
3 72.3% 86.4%
4 63.9% 79.8%
Unknown 69.1% 83.6%
Data gathered from the NCI SEER database show the five-year survival rates for lymphomas of all stages, based on data for 2012–2018.

What Is a Survival Rate?

Cancer researchers commonly define a disease’s survival rate as the percentage of people who are still living with the condition for a specified time after diagnosis. The NCI presents survival rates at the five-year mark for cancers. But these data points can be shown in a number of different ways and have limitations.

Screening and Early Detection of Lymphomas

The earlier cancers like lymphomas are found, the easier they are to treat and the better their survival rates. But, there are no widely accepted screening tests for Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Also, no way of testing or screening for this cancer has been shown to save lives or lower the risk of dying.

If you're at high risk for lymphoma, the best way to discover this cancer early is to pay close attention to your body and health. Watch for signs and symptoms of lymphoma, including lumps in the lymph nodes and symptoms such as:

  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Fever and chills
  • Night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Feeling tired

If a healthcare provider thinks you may have signs of Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin lymphoma, they'll likely start with a physical exam and take a detailed history. They also may order blood tests and, potentially, a biopsy of your lymph node (removing a sample of tissue for analysis in a lab).

Summary

Lymphoma is a common cancer of the white blood cells in the lymphatic system. When the B cells and T cells become cancerous, they can form solid tumors. There are almost 90,000 new cases of lymphoma diagnosed every year. It was estimated that lymphomas would kill 21,170 people in the United States in 2022.

There are two main types of lymphoma—Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). There are about 10 times more cases of NHL diagnosed yearly than Hodgkin lymphoma.

Some types of NHL occur in children, but people usually get it during the later years of life: a person's 60s and 70s. On the other hand, Hodgkin lymphoma often occurs in young adults.

Lymphomas are more common in men than women and Whites than other ethnicities. Many factors increase the risk of these white blood cell cancers, including infections, genetics, and things that weaken the immune system. 

The mortality rates for lymphomas are pretty good—73.8% of NHL patients are alive five years after diagnosis, and 89.1% of patients with Hodgkin lymphomas are.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do only kids get lymphoma?

    Some types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (for example, Burkitt lymphoma) occur in children, but most develop later in life. Hodgkin lymphoma can occur in adults and children but is most often diagnosed among young adults between 20 and 34.

  • How rare is Hodgkin lymphoma?

    Hodgkin lymphoma is the 27th most common cancer in the United States. Out of every 100,000 Americans, only 2.6 will be diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma yearly.

  • What’s the difference between Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma?

    Both Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphomas develop in the white blood cells of the lymphatic system. Hodgkin lymphoma most often starts in the body's B cells, turning them into Reed-Sternberg cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas develop in both B cells and T cells of the body and don't develop into Reed-Sternberg cells.

12 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Cancer Institute. Cancer stat facts: non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

  2. National Cancer Institute. Cancer stat facts: Hodgkin lymphoma.

  3. National Cancer Institute. SEER training: introduction to the lymphatic system.

  4. National Cancer Institute. Definition of solid tumor.

  5. American Cancer Society. What is Hodgkin lymphoma?

  6. American Cancer Society. What is non-Hodgkin lymphoma? 

  7. American Cancer Society. Hodgkin lymphoma risk factors.

  8. American Cancer Society. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma risk factors.

  9. American Cancer Society. Can Hodgkin lymphoma be found early?

  10. American Cancer Society. Can non-Hodgkin lymphoma be found early?

  11. American Cancer Society. Tests for Hodgkin lymphoma.

  12. American Cancer Society. Tests for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

By Jennifer Welsh
Jennifer Welsh is a Connecticut-based science writer and editor with over ten years of experience under her belt. She’s previously worked and written for WIRED Science, The Scientist, Discover Magazine, LiveScience, and Business Insider.