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Hodgkin Lymphoma

Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system drains excess fluid from the blood and protects against infection. Hodgkin's lymphoma is different from other forms of lymphoma.

A graphic depicting the lymphatic system within the outline of a human including the tonsils, lymph nodes, thymus, bone marrow, and spleen
The Lymphatic Organs
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Cancer occurs when cells in the body—in this case a type of white blood cell called lymphocyte—divide without control or order. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably when new cells are not needed, a mass of tissue forms, called a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to malignant tumors, which can invade nearby tissue and can spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor does not invade or spread.

Causes

The cause of Hodgkin's lymphoma is unknown. It is likely related to complex genetic and environmental factors that lead to changes of the immune system. There are some compelling pieces of data to suggest that it is caused by a virus. The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has been considered.

Risk

Factors that increase your chance of getting Hodgkin's lymphoma include:

  • Sex: male
  • Ages: 15-40 and over 55
  • Family history
  • History of infectious mononucleosis or infection with Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mononucleosis
  • Weakened immune system, including infection with HIV or the presence of AIDS

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • Painless swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or groin
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Night sweating
  • Coughing
  • Unexplained fever
  • Weight loss
  • Itching
  • Decreased appetite

Diagnosis

Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with blood tests.

Your internal bodily structures may need to be viewed. This can be done with:

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Positron emission tomography (PET)/CT scan
  • Gallium scan

Abdominal surgery may be needed to remove the spleen and to biopsy the liver. This is not common because of the accuracy of noninvasive scans.

Treatment

Hodgkin's lymphoma is generally considered one of the more curable forms of cancer. Treatment options include:

  • Chemotherapy 
  • External Radiation Therapy
  • Splenectomy

If the cancer does not respond to chemotherapy or radiation, the outcome is usually very poor. There are some treatment options available, including:

  • Bone marrow transplantation 
  • Peripheral blood stem cell transplantation 

Prevention

There are no guidelines for preventing Hodgkin's lymphoma because the cause is unknown.

 

Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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