- Is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow
- Is one of the most curable forms of cancer
- Is named for Dr. Thomas Hodgkin, who first noted a trend of cancer cases in the lymph nodes in 1832. The disease was called Hodgkin's disease until it was officially renamed Hodgkin lymphoma in the late 20th century.
Click here to access Hodgkin lymphoma statistics.
What You Should Know
- Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system.
- Hematologists and oncologists are specialists who treat people who have Hodgkin lymphoma or other types of blood cancer.
- Treatment includes radiation, chemotherapy or both, depending on individual patient factors.
What You Should Do
- Talk with your doctor about your diagnostic tests and what the results mean.
- Be sure you know your Hodgkin lymphoma subtype - different subtypes have different treatments.
How Does Hodgkin Lymphoma Develop?
Hodgkin lymphoma starts when an abnormal change to a white cell (called a lymphocyte) causes it to become a lymphoma cell.
- Lymphoma cells grow and form masses, usually in the lymph nodes, located throughout our bodies in the lymphatic system.
- Lymphoma cells can also gather in other areas of the body where lymphoid tissue is found.
- Hodgkin lymphoma is distinguished from other types of lymphoma by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells (named for the scientists who first identified them). Other cells associated with the disease are called Hodgkin cells.
If untreated, the cancerous cells crowd out normal white cells, and the immune system can't guard against infection effectively.
For most people who have Hodgkin lymphoma, there are no obvious reasons (risk factors) why they developed the disease. The results of certain studies about the causes of Hodgkin lymphoma aren't definitive:
- Many studies of links between Hodgkin lymphoma and environmental exposures have been conducted with unclear results.
- Although Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has been associated with nearly half of Hodgkin lymphoma cases, EBV hasn't been conclusively established as a cause.
- Most cases of Hodgkin lymphoma occur in people who don't have identifiable risk factors.
- Most people with identifiable risk factors don't develop Hodgkin lymphoma.
- Patients who have a history of a blood test confirming mononucleosis have a 3-fold increased risk of HL compared to the general population.
- People infected with human T-cell lymphocytotropic virus (HTLV) or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) also have increased probability of developing HL.
- Experts have found that, occasionally, siblings of people with Hodgkin lymphoma tend to have higher rates of the disease than those people with brothers and sisters who don't have the disease. Although the link isn't common, scientists are studying why lymphoma is more common in some families than in others.
You can not catch the disease from someone else.
Source: Hodgkin Lymphoma. Reviewed by Carla Casulo, MD and Lynn Rich, MS, NP.