Difference between Sarcoidosis and Lymphoma

Both Sarcoidosis and Lymphoma cause the lymph glands as well as nodes to swell. Sarcoidosis involves a high risk of cancer in some organs like lung, liver, stomach and of melanoma and lymphoma as well. The parenchymal presentations of both the conditions are quite similar and cannot be easily distinguished. However, there are quite a few differences between these two conditions, which we will discuss in this article.

What is Sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis is a disease or disorder that is specified by the development of small collections of inflammatory cells in different parts of human body, mostly in lungs and lymph nodes, eyes, skin, heart, and other organs. There is no particular cause of this disease, however, experts believe that it results due to the response of the immune system of the body to any unknown substance.

  • Cause − Researchers assert that any abnormal reaction to body’s [proteins, infectious agents, chemicals and dust are some of the factors leading to the formation of granulomas in individuals who are genetically susceptible.

  • Treatment − There is no accurate cure of this disease but many patients do well without any treatment or with modest treatment. Corticosteroid medicines and some other medicines can help suppress the response of the immune system to help control the disease. NSAIDs can help ease the discomfort felt during flare ups. Genes may be involved in causing sarcoidosis. It has been found that environmental antigens and pollutants can also trigger the inflammation or the response leading to sarcoidosis.

  • Symptoms − Some of the common symptoms include − tiredness, fever, short breath, and lung crackles. It can also affect liver, vision, or bone marrow. 30% of the people suffering from sarcoidosis have its chronic form.

What is Lymphoma?

Lymphoma is more of a broad term for cancer that develops in the cells of the lymph system in our body. It is a type of blood cancer and is the fifth most common type of cancer. It can affect adults as well as children of any age. It affects the lymphatic system, a part of the germ fighting network of our body.

Some other parts of the lymphatic system include − lymph nodes or lymph glands, spleen, thymus gland and bone marrow. This disease affects all these areas of our body and various other organs as well.

  • Cause − The main cause of lymphoma is the uncontrolled growth of white blood cells called lymphocytes. It is sometimes also referred to as the cancer of the immune system.

  • Types − There are around 60 different types of lymphoma. However, the two main types of lymphoma are − Hodgkin’s lymphoma or Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is more prevalent (accounts for 85% cases of lymphoma) than Hodgkin’s lymphoma (accounts for 15% cases of lymphoma). Burkitt’s lymphoma is one of rarest forms of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and also one of the most aggressive types of cancer.

  • Symptoms − The symptoms of this disease are fully dependent on what area it affects and what type of lymphoma it is. CT scans and MRI can be used to diagnose lymphoma.

  • Treatment − Most types of lymphoma can be effectively treated. The treatment of lymphoma depends on its type and severity. Some common treatments of lymphoma involve chemotherapy, immunotherapy medications, radiation therapy, bone marrow transplant or a combination of these treatments. Use of antibody-conjugate drugs and stem cell transplant can help treat some patients.

Difference between Sarcoidosis and Lymphoma

The following table highlights the major differences between Sarcoidosis and Lymphoma −





This disease is caused when inflammation produces granulomas in lungs and lymph nodes.

It is a type of blood cancer affecting the lymphatic system.

Age of diagnosis

It can be diagnosed in young to middle adulthood.

Its diagnosis varies with the type of lymphoma even in children and teens.


Its main cause is inflammation.

Its main cause is the genetic mutation in lymphocyte.


Some of the common symptoms of sarcoidosis include night sweats, enlarged lymph nodes as well as lymph glands, short breath and wheezing.

Some of the common symptoms of the two types of lymphoma are swollen lymph nodes, fatigue and fever.


NSAIDS can used to reduce pain and some other medicines can also be used to contain the immune system.

We can use antibody- conjugate drugs, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy, bone marrow transplant and stem cell transplant to treat both the types of lymphoma.

Method of diagnosis

Sarcoidosis can be diagnosed through a biopsy of the lymph nodes or lymph glands along with chest-X rays.

The diagnosis of both the types of this disease depends on imaging technologies like CT scan and MRI. Lymph biopsy can also be used.

One might confuse sarcoidosis with lymphoma, however the presence of granulomas in lungs and a biopsy of the lymph nodes or lymph glands can easily help distinguish between the two conditions.

Lymphoma can conclusively be diagnosed by detecting the presence of Red- Sternberg cells through the biopsy of lymph nodes. Also, lymphoma is a type of cancer while sarcoidosis is not. However, there is a high risk of the sarcoid granulomas becoming cancerous. It may further increase the risks of other types of cancer in the future, including lymphoma and lung cancer.


Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that affects the lymph nodes as well as lungs while lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that impacts the lymphatic system of our body. In about 60% cases, sarcoidosis patients have recovered with the granulomas disappearing within 2-5 years.

The treatment of lymphoma has proven to be really effective and has eventually cured most of the people within 5 years. With this, we conclude the major differences between sarcoidosis and lymphoma.

Updated on: 31-Jan-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started