Overview

About Hodgkin Lymphoma

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About Hodgkin Lymphoma

Hodgkin lymphoma is a disease where cancer cells form in the lymph system. There are two types of adult Hodgkin lymphoma: classical and nodular lymphocyte-predominant. Another type of lymphoma is called non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Signs & Symptoms

These are signs of Hodgkin lymphoma:

  • Painless swelling in the neck, underarm, or groin
  • Night sweats
  • Fever for no known reason
  • Weakness or tiredness
  • Weight loss for no known reason
  • Itchy skin

Many other health problems can also cause these signs. If you have any of these signs, see your doctor as soon as possible.

Learn more about Hodgkin lymphoma from the National Cancer Institute. 

Image of the Lymph System

anatomical drawing of the lymph system

Anatomy of the lymph system, showing the lymph vessels and lymph organs including lymph nodes, tonsils, thymus, spleen, and bone marrow. Lymph (clear fluid) and lymphocytes travel through the lymph vessels and into the lymph nodes where the lymphocytes destroy harmful substances. The lymph enters the blood through a large vein near the heart.

Specialities & Treatments

The treatment or combination of treatments each patient has depends on the recommendations of the care team and the patient’s wishes. These are the most common types of treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma: 

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Surgery

Huntsman Cancer Institute’s Hematologic Cancers Program provides comprehensive, compassionate, state-of-the-art care for people with all types of blood cancers and conditions.

Learn more about types of cancer treatments and cancer screenings.

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Causes & Risk Factors

Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean you are sure to get cancer. It means your chances are higher than the average person’s. Talk with your doctor to learn more about your cancer risk.

These are risk factors for Hodgkin lymphoma:

  • Being male
  • Being in young or late adulthood
  • Having a parent or sibling with Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Being infected with Epstein-Barr virus

Learn more about ways to prevent cancer and about family history and genetic counseling.

Diagnosis & Stages

Diagnosis of Hodgkin Lymphoma

Doctors use these tests to diagnose Hodgkin lymphoma:

  • Physical exam and history: A health care provider examines your body for signs of disease. Your personal health habits, past illnesses, and symptoms help guide the exam.
  • Laboratory tests: By testing body tissues, blood, urine, or other substances in the body, your health care team can check to see how the organs are functioning. They also look for abnormal amounts of blood cells.
  • Lymph node biopsy: A health care provider removes part or all of a lymph node to look for abnormal cells under a microscope.

Stages of Hodgkin Lymphoma

Staging is the process that shows if cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Cancer spreads in the body in three ways: through tissue, the lymph system, or the blood.

These are the stages used for Hodgkin lymphoma:

  • Stage I, IE
  • Stage II, IIE
  • Stage III, IIIE, IIIS, IIIE,S
  • Stage IV

These are descriptions used with the stages of Hodgkin lymphoma:

  • B: You have fever, weight loss, or night sweats.
  • A: You don’t have the “B” symptoms.
  • E: Cancer is in an organ or tissue that is not part of the lymph system.
  • S: Cancer is in the spleen.

When cancer spreads from where it started to another part of the body, it is called metastasis. These metastatic cancer cells are the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if Hodgkin lymphoma spreads to the liver, the cancer cells in the liver are actually Hodgkin lymphoma cells. The disease is metastatic Hodgkin lymphoma, not liver cancer.

Learn more about the stages of Hodgkin lymphoma from the National Cancer Institute.