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What is lymphoma?

Actor Jeff Bridges has been diagnosed with the condition
Credit: Powers Imagery/Invision/AP
Jeff Bridges arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Al Powers/Invision/AP)

HARTFORD, Conn — FOX61 spoke with Medical Director of the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute Dr. Andrew Salner to learn more about lymphoma following actor Jeff Bridges' announcement that he's been diagnosed with the cancer.

"Lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system cells. It could be in the lymph nodes, but it could be other organs of the body. It accounts for about four percent of all cancers that we see," said Dr. Salner.

The doctor also said lymphoma is a cancer that's divided and sub-divided into many different types.

"There's a Hodgkin's disease which tends to occur more in young people and that accounts for 10 percent of lymphomas and the rest of them are called Non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, and of the Non-Hodgkin's lymphomas there are about 10 or 12 different types, some of which are non-aggressive and slow and some of which are more aggressive, so without knowing much further about his diagnosis it's hard to offer and prognostic information," said Dr. Salner.

The good news: Dr. Salner said most lymphomas are treatable and the mortality rate has gone down in recent years because of improvements in treatment.

"The five-year survival for Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is about 75 percent, so that's good news that many patients will survive the disease and do well and many are cured, so there's hope," said Dr. Salner.

However, there are still unknowns surrounding the disease.

"As in most cancers, we don't really know what causes it. We do know that a portion of patients who get lymphoma are patients who have immuno-suppression for whatever reason," said Dr. Salner.