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Lymphoblastic lymphoma (LL) is a rare type of fast-growing non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). It develops when the body makes abnormal lymphocytes. It can develop from both B-cell and T-cell lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that fight infection.
The abnormal lymphocytes (lymphoma cells) usually build up in lymph nodes but 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 most common in children and teenagers.
We have more information about ALL.
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Painless swelling in neck, armpit or groin
This is often the first sign of LL. It is caused by lymphoma cells building up in the lymph nodes, which makes them bigger. It can cause symptoms such as:
- shortness of breath
- chest pain.
Some people also have:
- drenching night sweats
- high temperatures (fevers) with no obvious cause
- unexplained weight loss
Doctors call this group of symptoms B symptoms.
LL sometimes also affects other areas of the body, which causes other symptoms. These areas can include the:
- bone marrow
The causes of LL are mostly unknown. Like other cancers, it is not infectious and cannot be passed on to other people. It is very rare in adults and usually occurs in people under the age of 35. It is more common in males than females.
We have more information about causes and risk factors for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The most common test for this lymphoma is to remove part or all of an enlarged lymph node (a biopsy). This may be done under local or general anaesthetic. The biopsy is then sent to a laboratory to be checked for lymphoma cells. You may also have biopsies taken from other areas of the 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 time. It may help to talk to your family, friends or specialist nurse.
The stage describes which areas of the body are affected by a lymphoma. The grade describes how the lymphoma cells look and grow. Low-grade lymphomas are usually slow growing and high-grade lymphomas grow more quickly. LL is a high-grade lymphoma.
Doctors often use information about the stage and grade to help plan lymphoma treatment. However, with LL these factors do not affect your treatment plan.
A team of specialists will meet to discuss the best possible treatment for you. This is called multidisciplinary team (MDT).
Your doctor or cancer specialist or nurse will explain the different treatments and their side effects. They will also talk to you about things to consider when making treatment decisions.
Treatments for LL include:
Stem cell and bone marrow transplants
Stem cell and bone marrow transplants is sometimes used after chemotherapy. It is also used 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 your own stem cells (autologous stem cell transplant) or cells from a donor (allogeneic stem cell transplant).
It is common for LL to be treated as part of a clinical trial.
You have regular follow-up appointments after treatment. These appointments are a good opportunity for you to talk to your doctor or nurse about any concerns you have. Your doctor will want to know how you are feeling generally, and to check you are recovering from any side effects of treatment.
Sometimes a side effect may continue or develop months or years after treatment. This is called a late effect.
We have more information about long-term and late effects of treatment for lymphoma.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.