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Hodgkin Lymphoma Subtypes

Most people diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma have one of the two main kinds of the disease, called subtypes:

  • classic Hodgkin lymphoma
  • nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma

The subtypes have been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO). It's important to know your subtype since it plays a large part in determining the type of treatment you'll receive.

Classic Hodgkin Lymphoma

About 95 percent of people with Hodgkin lymphoma have the classic subtype. Classic Hodgkin lymphoma is further divided into four distinct subtypes shown in the table below.

Classic Hodgkin Lymphoma Subtypes



Nodular sclerosis Hodgkin lymphoma
  • makes up about 60 percent to 70 percent of all Hodgkin lymphoma cases
  • is most commonly diagnosed in young adults ages 15 to 34
  • is highly curable
  • has some abnormalities that can persist after successful treatment, such as small lumps of harmless scar tissue (residual fibrosis) that form
Mixed cellularity Hodgkin lymphoma
  • is the second most common subtype, makes up about 25 percent of all Hodgkin lymphoma cases
  • is most commonly diagnosed in children up to ages 14 and older adults ages 55 to 74
  • is common in people with immune system disorders such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • is an aggressive subtype but highly curable
Lymphocyte-depleted Hodgkin lymphoma
  • makes up about 4 percent of all Hodgkin lymphoma cases
  • generally has a relatively poor outlook when compared with other Hodgkin lymphoma subtypes
  • is sometimes misdiagnosed as non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Lymphocyte-rich classic Hodgkin lymphoma

  • is similar to the nodular lymphocyte-predominant subtype but has more characteristics in common with classic Hodgkin lymphoma

Nodular Lymphocyte-Predominant Hodgkin Lymphoma

The nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL) subtype affects about 5 percent of patients, mostly young men. NLPHL is identified by certain factors:

  • NLPHL cells are "lymphocytic" and "histolytic" cells - different from the classic Reed-Sternberg cells that signal classic Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Patients don't always have symptoms.
  • NLPHL is slow growing (indolent), and the chances of long-term survival are good.
  • There's a 3 percent risk that NLPHL will transform into non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • NLPHL treatment  is usually different from standard first-line therapy for classic Hodgkin lymphoma
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last updated on Thursday, March 15, 2012

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