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Differences Between Lung Cancer and Lymphoma

author image Norene Anderson
Norene Anderson has been a writer since 2003. She is also a registered nurse with expertise in a wide range of medical conditions and treatments. Anderson received her associate degree in nursing from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo.
Differences Between Lung Cancer and Lymphoma
Differences Between Lung Cancer and Lymphoma

Two types of cancer may affect the lungs: primary lung cancer, which is cancer that begins in the lungs, and metastatic lung cancer, which is cancer from other locations in the body that spreads to the lungs. The two main types of lymphoma are cancers of the lymphatic system; these are Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's.

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Onset of Disease

In lung cancer, symptoms are usually not present until the disease is advanced, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms include coughing up blood, a new cough that lingers, shortness of breath and chest pain. Primary lung cancer is categorized as either small cell or non-small cell. Small cell lung cancer is typical for heavy smokers, and non-small cell lung cancer includes other cancer types such as squamous cell, large cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.

Symptoms for Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma include fever, fatigue, itching, swollen lymph nodes and night sweats. Lymph nodes are found in clusters in the pelvis, neck, underarm and abdomen. MedlinePlus reports that in the majority of cases, the cause of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is unknown.


No screening tests are used for lung cancer, reports the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Diagnostic testing options to determine the presence of lung cancer include: chest X-rays to spot abnormal areas in the lungs; computed tomography (CT) scans to create precise computerized pictures; bronchoscopy to look into the lungs and take a lung biopsy; fine-needle aspiration to obtain a tissue sample with a thin needle; sputum cytology to examine cells from expelled mucus; and thoracentesis to obtain fluid from the lungs for microscopic examination.

Lymphoma symptoms are similar to other disease processes and blood disorders and require a doctor's expertise for accurate diagnosis and treatment. Diagnostic procedures for Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's disease include blood tests and a lymph node biopsy for tissue examination under microscope.


Staging for small cell lung cancer, as reported by the National Cancer Institute, includes limited stage, which is cancer only in one lung and its surrounding tissue, and extensive stage, which is cancer found in chest tissue outside the lung of origin or that is found in other organs.

Staging for non-small cell lung cancer includes: occult stage where cancer cells are found in sputum without the presence of a visible tumor in the lung; stage 0 with cancer cells in the lung's lining; stage 1A in which the tumor is less than 3 cm across. Staging continues through stages 1B, IIA, IIB, IIIA, IIIB and IV, with multiple malignant growths in the lungs or other parts of the body.

Lymphoma staging is based on the extent of the spread of the tumor. In Stage I, only one lymph node or area is involved; stage II involves two or more lymph nodes on one side of the diaphragm or a single lymph node where the tumor has spread into a nearby organ; stage III is the advanced stage, with lymphoma found in areas above and below the diaphragm; and stage IV is widespread, where the lymphoma has metastasized to other locations, such as the brain, liver or bone marrow.

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