About Hodgkin Lymphoma

Hodgkin lymphoma is a blood cancer of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system, which helps fight infections and other diseases. Lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) make up the lymphatic system. There are two main types of lymphocytes: B lymphocytes (B cells) and T lymphocytes (T cells). In Hodgkin lymphoma, the lymphocytes begin to multiply uncontrollably, producing abnormal cells that invade other tissues throughout the body. Hodgkin lymphoma usually starts in B lymphocytes, spreading through the lymph vessels from lymph node to lymph node.

The major sites of lymphoid tissue are:

  • Adenoids and tonsils
  • Bone Marrow
  • Digestive tract, including the stomach and intestines
  • Lymph nodes found throughout the body, including inside the chest, abdomen (belly), and pelvis
  • Lymph vessels
  • Spleen
  • Thymus gland

While Hodgkin lymphoma can start almost anywhere, it most commonly starts in lymph nodes in the upper part of the body. The most common sites are in the chest, neck, and under the arms.

Types of Hodgkin Lymphoma

The most common type of Hodgkin lymphoma is classical Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of lymphoma that develops from large, abnormal cells called Reed-Sternberg cells in their lymph nodes.

Subtypes of classical Hodgkin lymphoma include:

  • Nodular sclerosis Hodgkin lymphoma tends to start in lymph nodes in the neck or chest. This subtype is the most common type of Hodgkin lymphoma, accounting for 7 in 10 cases.
  • Mixed cellularity Hodgkin lymphoma can develop in any lymph node but tends to occur in the upper half of the body. This subtype is the second most common type of Hodgkin lymphoma, accounting for 4 in 10 cases.
  • Lymphocyte-depleted Hodgkin lymphoma tends to be found in lymph nodes in the abdomen, spleen, liver, and bone marrow. This subtype is a rare form of Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Lymphocyte-rich Hodgkin lymphoma tends to occur in the upper half of the body and is rarely found in more than a few lymph nodes. This subtype is a rare form of Hodgkin lymphoma.

Subtypes of non-classical Hodgkin lymphoma include:

  • Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma develops from abnormal B lymphocytes (B cells), which are a type of white blood cell. This is a rarer type of Hodgkin lymphoma and may be treated differently than classical Hodgkin lymphoma.

Symptoms of Hodgkin Lymphoma:

Symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma may include:

  • Coughing, trouble breathing, or chest pain
  • Fever without infection
  • Increased sensitivity to the effects of alcohol
  • Itching of the skin
  • Night sweats
  • Painless swelling of lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, or groin, which may become painful after drinking alcohol
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

Risk Factors for Hodgkin Lymphoma

Certain individuals are at greater risk for Hodgkin lymphoma. Men are more likely to be diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma than women.

Risk factors for Hodgkin lymphoma include:

  • Age: Hodgkin lymphoma can occur at any age, but it most commonly develops either between the ages of 15 and 30 or after age 55
  • Family history
  • Health history: A history of Epstein-Barr virus/mononucelosis infection, HIV infection, and a weakened immune system, including chronic immunosupression are associated with Hodgkin lymphoma

Treating Hodgkin Lymphoma at UT Health Austin

Treatment will require an accurate diagnosis and depend on specific type of lymphoma, location of cancer, and stage of disease. An individual care plan will be developed and tailored to manage symptoms to meet the needs of the individual patient. Decisions about treatment may include combinations of radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy.

Care Team Approach

At UT Health Austin, we take a multidisciplinary approach to your care. This means you will benefit from the expertise of multiple specialists across a variety of disciplines. Your care team will include medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, oncofertility specialists, onco-psychiatrists, genetic counselors, physical therapists, dietitians, social workers, and more as well as other members of the CaLM Care Team who work together to help you get back to the things in your life that matter most to you. We also collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to identify and utilize new therapies to improve cancer treatment outcomes. We are committed to communicating and coordinating your care with your other healthcare providers to ensure that we are providing you with comprehensive, whole-person care.

Learn More About Your Care Team

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Hematologic Malignancies

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