Lymphoma and Leukaemia

Lymphoma and leukaemia are diseases of the blood or the lymphatic system. Lymphoma refers to the formation of one or more tumours in the lymph nodes, for example in the chest or near the tonsils. Leukaemia, on the other hand, leads to an increased production of white blood cells in the bone marrow and blood.

Both lymphoma and leukaemia can affect other organs such as the spleen, the central nervous system or the liver.

There are several different types of lymphoma. Hodgkin lymphoma refers to malignant tumours in the lymphatic system that lead to changes in the blood and painless swellings in the lymph nodes. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma refers to all other malignant diseases affecting the lymphatic system.

If abnormal lymph cells increase uncontrollably, this condition is referred to as malignant lymphoma.

Leukaemia also has several different types. There are acute, aggressive forms such as acute myeloid leukaemia and acute lymphocytic leukaemia, but also other types of chronic leukaemia which develop and progress at a much slower pace. These include chronic myeloid leukaemia and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.

The different types are classified according to the various types of white blood cell (monocytes, granulocytes and lymphocytes) derived from precursor cells in the bone marrow. Depending on which type of cell undergoes a mutation in its DNA, the leukaemia is either referred to as lymphatic leukaemia (lymphocytes) or myeloid leukaemia (monocytes, granulocytes).

Another type of blood cancer is known as multiple myeloma. This is caused by a cancerous plasma cell (a fully developed B lymphocyte) multiplying without restraint in the bone marrow.

It is still not exactly known what causes these diseases. However, genetic factors seem to play a role.

Scientists have also succeeded in identifying other factors that increase the risk of becoming ill with malignant lymphoma:
- Epstein Barr virus (glandular fever)
- Immunosuppressants
- Aids
- Radiation
- Chemotherapy
- Autoimmune diseases
- Helicobacter pylori bacteria
- Environmental toxins
- Chemicals



Patients often feel tired, and are sensitive to weather changes. Fever, frequent infections, or unwanted weight loss can also point towards lymphoma or leukaemia. You should consult a specialist if you experience any of the above symptoms in conjunction with red spots on your skin or mucous membranes, or a persistent painless swelling in your lymph nodes.


Leukaemia and lymphoma are treated at the Department of Medicine 5 – Haematology and Oncology in collaboration with the interdisciplinary team at the German Centre for Immunotherapy. A team of experienced specialists is on hand to diagnose and treat all cases involving malignant mutations in the blood and the lymphatic system.

Treatment for lymphoma and leukaemia is based first and foremost on chemotherapy. The drugs aim to inhibit cell growth and thereby eliminate cancer cells. In some cases, it may make sense to complement chemotherapy with radiation therapy, targeted treatments or stem cell transplantations.

Another option for treating leukaemia or lymphoma is to use immunotherapy. Several different approaches are possible. These focus, for instance, on antibodies, checkpoint inhibitors or cellular immunotherapy using lymphocytes, and we collaborate closely in this respect with the Comprehensive Cancer Centre of the Metropolitan Region of Nuremberg (CCCEMN) at the DZI to discover new possibilities and use them in a clinical setting. In this way, we hope to open up new possibilities for targeted cancer therapy, also known as precision medicine.

Whilst immunotherapy has been used to treat other types of cancer for several years now, its use for treating lymphoma and leukaemia has only increased relatively recently. We are committed to conducting cutting-edge interdisciplinary research into using immunotherapy to treat patients suffering from diseases of the blood or lymphatic system.

We are particularly proud of our expertise in the area of genetically modified ‘designer’ T cells, known as CAR-T cells (CAR stands for chimeric antigen receptors). These are used to treat specific types of leukaemia and lymphoma, and have made a significant contribution to the range of treatment options we have at our disposal. Treatment using CAR-T cells is a combination of immunotherapy, cell therapy and gene therapy.

Do you have any questions on the treatment of leukaemia and lymphoma? Please feel free to get in touch with us by phone, e-mail or via our contact form.