Hodgkin's Lymphoma

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Topic Overview

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Lymphomas are either Hodgkin's lymphomas or non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. Hodgkin's lymphomas have a type of cell called Reed-Sternberg cells. Lymphomas without these cells are non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. This topic is about Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). To learn about Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, see the topic Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma .

What is Hodgkin's lymphoma?

Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer that begins in part of the immune system (the lymph system ). White blood cells called lymphocytes can become abnormal or increase in number and grow without control. They may form lumps of tissue called tumors, usually in the lymph nodes of the neck, armpits, or chest.

Hodgkin's lymphoma is also called Hodgkin's.

This topic is about the most common type of Hodgkin's lymphoma, called classical Hodgkin's lymphoma. There are other types of Hodgkin's.

Like other cancers, Hodgkin's can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. To find out how severe your cancer is, your doctor will classify it by stage and grade .

Hodgkin's is a very curable cancer compared to other cancers. But treatment success depends on your gender, the type of Hodgkin's you have, its stage, and your age when you are diagnosed.

What causes Hodgkin's?

Experts don't know what causes Hodgkin's lymphoma. Some things are known to increase the chance that you will get it. These are called risk factors. Risk factors include:

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of Hodgkin's include swollen lymph nodes, a fever, weight loss, and night sweats.

How is Hodgkin's diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask you about your and your family's medical history and will do a physical exam. You may also get:

How is it treated?

Treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma depends on what type you have and the stage of the disease. It also depends on the size of the tumor, your age, and your symptoms. It is usually treated with medicines called chemotherapy . You may need radiation treatment.

If the cancer comes back, you may need a stem cell transplant .

Side effects

Radiation and chemotherapy can have serious side effects. But the benefits of the medicine are usually more important than any side effects. Side effects may go away after you use the treatment for a while.

Your medical team will help you manage the side effects of your treatment. If you have chemotherapy or radiation, you may need medicines to control nausea and vomiting.

Fatigue is common with cancer treatment. But staying active and eating well before, during, and after your treatment may help you have more energy.

  • Get some physical activity every day. Ask a friend to take a walk with you.
  • Eat healthy foods. Foods with protein and extra calories can help you stay strong and prevent weight loss. Try liquid meal replacements.
  • Eat smaller meals more often, or eat your main meal early.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated.

Talk with your doctor and medical team about your side effects.

Clinical trials

You may be interested in taking part in research studies called clinical trials . Clinical trials are based on the most up-to-date information. They carefully study the use of new treatments and new combinations of current treatments.

Related Information


Other Works Consulted

  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network (2012). Hodgkin lymphoma. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology, version 2.2012. Available online: http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/hodgkins.pdf.


ByHealthwise Staff

Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine

Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine

Specialist Medical Reviewer Douglas A. Stewart, MD, FRCPC - Medical Oncology

Current as ofMay 3, 2017