B-cell malignancies are cancers that arise from abnormalities in B cells, and include B-cell lymphomas and leukaemias. While leukaemias typically originate in the bone marrow and spread through the bloodstream, lymphomas usually originate in the lymph nodes or the spleen and spread through the lymphatic system.
There are more than 70 known types of B-cell lymphoma, and these make up approximately 85 % of all cases of non-Hodgkin lymphomas in the United States. NHL is one of the most common cancers in the United States, accounting for about 4% of all cancers. B-cell lymphomas may grow and spread slowly with few symptoms (also known as indolent lymphoma) or may be very aggressive with severe symptoms. Other common types of B-cell lymphoma include:
- Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL)
- Follicular lymphoma
- Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) /small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL)
- Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL)
- Marginal zone lymphomas
- Burkitt lymphoma
In leukaemia, the bone marrow produces abnormal levels of white blood cells. B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (B-ALL) is an aggressive leukaemia in which too many B-cell lymphoblasts (immature white blood cells) are found in the bone marrow and blood. B-ALL is the most common type of ALL. Note that B-ALL is also called B-cell acute lymphocytic leukaemia and precursor B-lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Relapsed refers to when a patient has received active treatment, went off treatment and then the disease came back, whereas refractory refers to disease that is progressing despite active treatment.