Lymphoblastic lymphoma (LL)
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On this page
- What is lymphoblastic lymphoma?
- Symptoms of lymphoblastic lymphoma
- Causes of lymphoblastic lymphoma
- Diagnosis of lymphoblastic lymphoma
- The stages and grades of lymphoblastic lymphoma
- Treatment for lymphoblastic lymphoma
- After treatment for lymphoblastic lymphoma
- About our information
- How we can help
Lymphoblastic lymphoma (LL) is a rare type of fast-growing non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). LL develops when white blood cells called lymphocytes become abnormal (cancerous). Lymphocytes normally help fight infection.
LL can develop from both B-cell and T-cell lymphocytes. The abnormal lymphocytes (lymphoma cells) usually build up in llymph nodes, but they can affect other parts of the body.
LL is very similar to acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and is treated in the same way. It is very rare in adults. It usually occurs in people under the age of 35. It is more common in men than women.
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Painless swelling in the neck, armpit or groin
Painless swelling in the neck, armpit or groin is often the first sign of lymphoblastic lymphoma (LL). It is caused by lymphoma cells building up in the lymph nodes, which makes them bigger. LL can also cause a mass or tumour in the area between the lungs (mediastinum). This can cause symptoms such as:
- shortness of breath
- chest pain.
Some people also have symptoms that doctors call B symptoms. These can include:
- drenching night sweats which require a change of nightwear and bed covers
- high temperatures (fevers) with no obvious cause
- unexplained weight loss.
Knowing if you have any B symptoms will help your doctor to stage the lymphoma and plan your treatment.
The most common test for diagnosing lymphoma is a biopsy. A doctor will take a sample of tissue from the affected area. The most common place to take a biopsy from is an enlarged lymph node. This is called a lymph node biopsy). You may have all or a part of the lymph node removed. The tissue will be sent to a laboratory for testing. You may also have biopsies taken from other areas of your body.
You can read more about further tests you may have in our information about non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Waiting for test results can be a difficult. You may find it helpful to talk to your family, friends or specialist nurse.
Your test results will help your doctors find out how many areas of your body are affected by lymphoma and where these areas are. This is called staging.
Lymphomas are also grouped as either low-grade or high-grade. Low-grade lymphomas are usually slow growing and high-grade lymphomas grow more quickly. Lymphoblastic lymphoma (LL) is a high-grade lymphoma.
Knowing the stage and grade of the lymphoma often helps your doctor plan the right treatment for you. But with LL, these factors do not affect your treatment plan.
We have more information about the stages and grades of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
A team of specialists will meet to discuss the best possible treatment for you. They are called a multidisciplinary team (MDT).
Your doctor, cancer specialist or nurse will explain the different treatments and their side effects to you. They will also talk to you about things to consider when making treatment decisions.
Treatment depends on the stage of the lymphoma and whether you have symptoms that are causing problems. You may have some treatments as part of a clinical trial.
The most common treatments are:
Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells, while doing as little harm as possible to nearby healthy cells. It may be used to treat lymphoma in the chest or brain. It is sometimes given to reduce the risk of lymphoma spreading to the brain.
Stem cell transplants
A stem cell transplant is sometimes used after chemotherapy. It may also used be to treat lymphoma that has come back after treatment. It is an intensive treatment, so it is not suitable for everyone. You may have a transplant using:
You will have regular follow-up appointments after your treatment. You can talk to your doctor or nurse about any concerns you may have at these appointments. Your doctor will want to know how you are feeling, and to check you are recovering from any side effects of treatment.
Sometimes side effects may continue or develop months or years after treatment. These are called late effects. We have more information about long-term and late effects of treatment for lymphoma.
Sex life and fertility
Cancer and its treatment can sometimes affect your sex life. There ways to improve your sexual well-being and to manage any problems.
Treatment for lymphoma may affect your fertility. If you are worried about your fertility it is important to talk with your doctor before you start treatment. We have more information about:
Everyone has their own way of dealing with illness and the different emotions they experience. You may find it helpful to talk things over with family and friends or your doctor or nurse.
Macmillan is also here to support you. If you would like to talk, you can:
The organisations below also offer information and support:
Blood Cancer UK
Lymphoma Action gives emotional support, advice and information for people with Hodgkin lymphoma or non-Hodgkin lymphoma and those close to them. It has a national network of people with lymphoma, as well as local groups. Their website has a section called trialslink where you can see information about lymphoma clinical trials.
Below is a sample of the sources used in our lymphoblastic lymphoma (LL) information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at email@example.com
Gokbuget N and Hoelzer. Treatment of Lymphoblastic Lymphoma in Adults. Acute Leukemias. pp 203-214. Available from: https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2F978-3-540-72304-2_16.pdf
This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Professor Rajnish Gupta, Macmillan Consultant Medical Oncologist.
Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.