By Michal Addady
September 22, 2015

Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, announced on Tuesday that he has lymphoma. He did not disclose the details of his particular case other than describing it as “highly curable.” He will continue to serve as CEO while he receives treatment.

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that is divided into two major groups: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, each one affecting the lymphatic system.

Hodgkin Lymphoma

This is one of the most curable forms of cancer, and likely Blankfein’s diagnosis based on his announcement. It’s divided into two different categories, Classic Hodgkin Lymphoma and Nodular Lymphocyte-Predominant Hodgkin Lymphoma. The former makes up about 95% of Hodgkins cases, and the latter makes up the other 5%. Each category is further divided into more specific subtypes, and treatment depends on which subtype one has been diagnosed with. It’s generally radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of the two. Stem cell transplantation could also be used as a treatment.

Scientists have yet to discover what causes the disease but have spotted a few correlations. Patients are three times more likely to have a history of mononucleosis; people with HTLC or HIV have an increased risk of contracting the disease; and siblings of patients with Hodgkin lymphoma tend to have higher rates of it. Nearly half of Hodgkins cases have also been associated with the Epstein-Barr virus.

The survival rate is 85% for five years and 80% for ten years.

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

This one is actually not just one disease, but a group of blood cancers essentially working together and developing similarly. The two major subtypes are B-cell lymphoma, which makes up 85% of cases, and T-cell and natural killer (NK) cell lymphoma, making up the other 15%. Similar to Hodgkins, each of these categories are divided into various different subtypes.

60% of non-Hodgkins cases are considered aggressive, meaning they develop quickly. The most aggressive form is diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and the least aggressive is follicular lymphoma; both of B-cell subtypes.

Scientists have found that people who live and work in farming communities have higher rates of non-Hodgkins, suggesting that there’s potentially a link between the disease and certain ingredients found in herbicides and pesticides. Higher incidences of non-Hodgkins have also been associated HIV/AIDS, HTLV, and helicobacter pylori, which is the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers.

Non-Hodgkins patients are treated with the same methods as those with Hodgkins, but treatments for aggressive and slow-growing forms could be vastly different.

The survival rate for non-Hodgkins lymphoma is 69% for five years and 59% for 10 years.

In each case, doctors warn that patients over 60 years of age may not be able to tolerate the treatment as well, particularly chemotherapy, making it riskier. Blankfein, who is 61, says he will undergo chemotherapy.

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