Hodgkin's Lymphoma

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.

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Other Places To Get Help

Organizations

American Cancer Society (ACS)
Phone: 1-800-ACS-2345 (1-800-227-2345)
Web Address: www.cancer.org
 

The American Cancer Society (ACS) conducts educational programs and offers many services to people with cancer and to their families. Staff at the toll-free number have information about services and activities in local areas and can provide referrals to local ACS divisions.


National Cancer Institute (NCI)
6116 Executive Boulevard
Suite 300
Bethesda, MD  20892-8322
Phone: 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237)
Web Address: www.cancer.gov (or https://livehelp.cancer.gov/app/chat/chat_launch for live help online)
 

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is a U.S. government agency that provides up-to-date information about the prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer. NCI also offers supportive care to people who have cancer and to their families. NCI information is also available to doctors, nurses, and other health professionals. NCI provides the latest information about clinical trials. The Cancer Information Service, a service of NCI, has trained staff members available to answer questions and send free publications. Spanish-speaking staff members are also available.


Related Information

References

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.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Douglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology
Current as of February 22, 2013

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