Hodgkin Lymphoma (HL), also known as Hodgkin disease, is a type of cancer that develops in the lymphatic system. The most common types of lymphomas are Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Hodgkin lymphoma is far less common than non-Hodgkin lymphoma; in fact, Hodgkin lymphoma is quite rare. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cells made in the bone marrow and lymph nodes and are vital to the body’s immune system. The body contains two primary types of lymphocytes that can develop into lymphomas: T-cells and B-cells.
In Hodgkin lymphoma, B lymphocytes, or B-cells, a type of white blood cell, become malignant, grow out of control, and can spread through the lymphatic system. The two most common classifications for Hodgkin lymphoma are classic HL (cHL) and nodular lymphocyte predominant HL. Classic HL accounts for about 95% of diagnosed cases. Hodgkin lymphoma is potentially curable and, with recent advances, patients with HL have a greater likelihood for full recovery. Hodgkin lymphoma occurs more frequently in men than in women. It can occur at any age, but is more likely to be diagnosed between the ages of 15 years and 30 years, or over the age of 55 years. Hodgkin lymphoma is the most common cancer diagnosed in teenagers and young adults.
Hodgkin lymphoma may cause one or more of the following:
- Night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Persistent fatigue
- Severe itching
- Increased sensitivity to the effects of alcohol or pain in lymph nodes after consuming alcohol
The exact underlying cause or causes of HL are unknown. Potential risk factors are not always evident, however may include a family history of lymphoma and having a previous infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Treatments may vary depending on the type of HL, the location, and stage, as well as the general overall health of the patient.
Treatment options for Hodgkin’s lymphoma may include one or more of the following:
- Radiation therapy
- High-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant