What Is Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma?

Non-Hodgkins lymphoma is a type of cancer in the lymphatic system. Non-Hodgkins lymphoma causes the cells in the lymphatic system to abnormally reproduce, eventually causing tumors to grow.  Because lymph tissue is found throughout the body, adult non-Hodgkins lymphoma can begin in almost any part of the body. Cancer can spread to the liver and many other organs and tissues.


People have survived every stage of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. People with non-Hodgkins lymphoma now have more treatment choices and more hope for survival than ever before. 

Stanford research breakthroughs

Diagnosis & prognosis

Lymphoma Program physicians lead the field in the application of genetic technology to fight cancer. For example, researchers at the Cancer Center have identified a set of six genes that may predict response to treatment in patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), the most common form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

This finding is the first gene-based screen to identify people who need the most aggressive therapy. Stanford researchers also recently discovered a simpler yet as accurate 2 gene signature. This test can be done on a small piece of the tumor obtained at diagnosis.

Patients treated by physicians in the Lymphoma Program have access to this kind of predictive genetic screening through ongoing clinical studies in both DLBCL and follicular lymphoma.


In 1994, Stanford investigators were the first to treat patients with rituximab, an antibody developed by Dr. Ronald Levy which targets the lymphoma cells. Three years later, rituximab was approved by the FDA and today is the standard therapy for almost all patients with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

In 2011, Stanford researchers discovered a second antibody which boosts the immune response and dramatically increases the ability of rituximab to kill lymphoma. Patients at Stanford are receiving this novel combination of antibodies through clinical trials.

Stanford investigators have cured many mice with lymphoma in the hope of finding a cure for humans. Based on very promising mouse studies, Stanford investigators recently started a clinical trial testing a "personalized" vaccine for mantle cell lymphoma. Patients at Stanford have access to these and other state-of-the-art therapies.  

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.

Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.

Before beginning treatment, ask your doctor about any clinical trials you should consider. Learn more about clinical trials for cancer patients.

Clinical trial eligibility flowcharts

Eligibility flowcharts map clinical trials to specific types of cancers to determine if a participant is eligible for the particular clinical trial. View all lymphoma eligibility flowcharts at the Stanford Cancer Institute.

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