Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of lymph tissue. Lymph tissue is found in the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, bone marrow, and other sites.
The cause of Hodgkin lymphoma is not known. Hodgkin lymphoma is most common among people 15 to 35 years old and 50 to 70 years old. Past infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is thought to contribute to some cases. People with HIV infection are at increased risk compared to the general population.
The first sign of Hodgkin lymphoma is often a swollen lymph node that appears without a known cause. The disease can spread to nearby lymph nodes. Later it may spread to the spleen, liver, bone marrow, or other organs.
Symptoms may include any of the following:
Other symptoms that may occur with this disease:
Symptoms caused by Hodgkin lymphoma may occur with other conditions. Talk to your health care provider about the meaning of your specific symptoms.
The provider will perform a physical exam and check body areas with lymph nodes to feel if they are swollen.
The disease is often diagnosed after a biopsy of suspected tissue, usually a lymph node.
The following procedures will usually be done:
If tests show that you have Hodgkin lymphoma, more tests will be done to see how far the cancer has spread. This is called staging. Staging helps guide treatment and follow-up.
Treatment depends on the following:
You may receive chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or both. Your provider can tell you more about your specific treatment.
High-dose chemotherapy may be given when Hodgkin lymphoma returns after treatment or does not respond to the first treatment. This is followed by a stem cell transplant that uses your own stem cells.
You and your provider may need to manage other concerns during your treatment, including:
You can ease the stress of illness by joining a cancer support group. Sharing with others who have common experiences can help you not feel alone.
Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the most curable cancers. Cure is even more likely if it is diagnosed and treated early. Unlike other cancers, Hodgkin lymphoma is also very curable in its late stages.
You will need to have regular exams for years after your treatment. This helps your provider check for signs of the cancer returning and for any long-term treatment effects.
Treatments for Hodgkin lymphoma can have complications. Long-term complications of chemotherapy or radiation therapy include:
Keep following up with a provider who knows about monitoring and preventing these complications.
Call your provider if:
Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.