Differences between Leukemia, Lymphoma and Multiple Myeloma

Differences between Leukemia, Lymphoma and Multiple Myeloma


Leukemias are malignancies arising from the blood-forming tissues.

Leukemias originally were termed “acute” or “chronic” based on life expectancy, but they now are classified according to the maturity of the leukemic cells.

Acute leukemias consist of primarily immature cells (blasts); chronic leukemias consist primarily of mature blood cells. Acute leukemias usually require aggressive treatment because they can progress rapidly. Chronic leukemias usually progress slowly. The two main categories of leukemia are lymphocytic leukemia and myelogenous leukemia. Each type of leukemia is a unique disease requiring specialized treatment.


Lymphomas are a family of malignancies arising from the lymphatic system including the lymph nodes and spleen. In addition, for reasons that are unknown, lymphoma can also arise in other organs — so called extra-nodal lymphoma.

There are dozens of lymphomas, but they are categorized as either Hodgkin’s Disease or non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Multiple Myeloma

Multiple Myeloma is a malignancy arising in plasma cells which are the cells that produce antibodies. Multiple Myeloma typically involves the bones and can result in fractures. Multiple Myeloma also can lead to kidney damage, anemia, and an elevated calcium level.

Multiple Myeloma is related to a similar malignancy called Waldendenstrom’s Macroglobulemia. This is a separate plasma cell malignancy that typically does not damage bones but can result in enlarged lymph nodes.

Blood Cancers

If your health care provider suspects that you may have a blood cancer, it is vital that you see a hematologist for appropriate testing and potential treatment.