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Lymphomas are malignant neoplasms that originate from the lymphoid tissues. Two distinct categories of lymphoma exist: Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's. The two types not only have different morphologic characteristics but differ also in their clinical behavior and their response to various therapeutic regimens. It is not possible to differentiate Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma on clinical grounds, but only by surgical biopsy. In the diagnosis of a suspected lymphoma, excisional biopsy of the entire lymph node or nodes is imperative, as the architecture has a bearing on the diagnosis and the subsequent treatment of the tumor.

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Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma encompasses a wide spectrum of lymphoid-derived tumors. This heterogeneous group of diseases includes more than ten distinct tumor subtypes with variable biologic behavior and responses to treatment. As opposed to Hodgkin's lymphoma, the prevalence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma rises with age. The incidence has been rising steadily over the past 20 years by about 3–5% per year, for unknown reasons. Several risk factors have been identified that predispose patients to the development of disease. Patients with congenital disorders such as ataxia-telangiectasia, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, and celiac disease have an increased incidence of lymphoma. Certain acquired conditions also predispose patients to lymphoma, including prior chemotherapy or radiotherapy, immunosuppressive therapy, EBV infection, HIV infection, HTLV-1 infection, Helicobacter pylori gastritis, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and Sjögren's syndrome.

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Table 1-1. Classic Subtypes of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

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