Lymphomas comprise a diverse array of neoplasms that arise from lymphoid cells. It is now widely accepted that distinct subtypes of lymphoma arise from and correlate with subsets of normal lymphocytes at discrete points in lymphocyte development or maturation. Molecular mechanisms of lymphoma pathogenesis also correlate with lymphoid cell physiology deregulated by identifiable genetic events. Better understanding of the pathogenesis of lymphomas has led to advances in their classification and treatment outcomes. The WHO classification of lymphoid malignancies was updated in 2008 and is based on histologic features, immunophenotype, cytogenetics, and epidemiologic/etiologic factors. The major clinical groupings include non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHL), Hodgkin lymphomas (HL), and plasma cell neoplasms. Given the intimate relationship between the basic concepts of immunobiology and lymphomagenesis, the first portion of this chapter is devoted to an overview of the fundamentals of the Immune System. The second portion of this chapter discusses the clinical aspects of lymphoma and includes brief descriptions of the common subtypes of lymphoma.
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