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non-Hodgkin lymphomas  a diverse group of malignant lymphomas whose common feature is absence of the giant Reed-Sternberg cells characteristic of Hodgkin disease. They arise from the lymphoid components of the immune system, and present a clinical picture broadly similar to that of Hodgkin disease except that these diseases are initially more widespread and involve painless enlargement of one or more peripheral lymph nodes. One widely used classification is based on two criteria: cytologic characteristics of the constituent cells and type of cell growth pattern (defined as either nodular [follicular] or diffuse). Another system of classification is based on the cell type of origin: T- or B-lymphocytes or histiocytes. Still another formulation has been proposed, separating non-Hodgkin lymphomas into major subtypes using only morphologic criteria.




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