How is lymphoma diagnosed, treated? Cancer expert answers questions after Jeff Bridges reveals diagnosis

MISSION VIEJO, Calif. (KABC) -- Actor Jeff Bridges announced he's fighting a major battle.

The Oscar winner on Tuesday tweeted that he's been diagnosed with lymphoma.

"I have been diagnosed with Lymphoma," the 70-year-old Bridges wrote. "Although it is a serious disease, I feel fortunate that I have a great team of doctors and the prognosis is good."

So how is lymphoma diagnosed and what are the latest treatments for it?

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Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that develops in the lymphatic system which is part of the body's disease fighting network. It can affect patients at any age.

Mission Hospital oncologist Dr. Minch Fong describes two main types: Hodgkin's lymphoma, which originates in the immune system's dendritic cells and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma which starts in T or B cells.

"When you have a cancer that starts in the lymph nodes we regard them as lymphoma, "Minch said, "All lymphoma regardless of whether it's Hodgkin or Non-Hodgkin is treated with chemotherapy."

Treatments that target the cancer on the molecular level are also promising. Environmental factors such as radiation exposure may be linked to its cause, and Minch said more cases tend to show up in areas of affluence.

"We know that very wealthy areas tend to be clusters for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Orange County, where I practice, has a very high incidence."

Bridges has one of the most storied careers in cinema. He won best actor for his portrayal of an alcoholic singer in 2009's "Crazy Heart."

Minch said the five-year survival rate for people with Hodgkin's lymphoma is close to 90% and 72% percent for non-Hodgkin's disease.

Nearly 800,000 Americans are living with or are in remission from lymphoma.
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