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Hodgkin Lymphoma

There are two categories of lymphoma: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Both are blood cancers of the immune system, specifically the lymphocyte cells, including those found in the lymph nodes, spleen, and bone marrow. Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma vary in behavior, treatment reaction, and how each spreads.

Hodgkin Lymphoma

Hodgkin lymphoma, or Hodgkin’s disease, was named after Dr. Thomas Hodgkin, who was the first to discover and describe it. Hodgkin disease frequently moves through the lymph system from lymph node to lymph node. Because the lymph system is spread throughout the body, Hodgkin lymphoma can originate almost anywhere, most often in the chest, neck, or underarms. Rarely, in its late stages, the disease may also use the bloodstream as a means for spreading to other parts of the body, including the liver, lungs, and bone marrow. Hodgkin lymphoma can occur in both adults and children.


  • In 2018, about 8,500 Americans will be diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma and about 1,050 will die from the disease.
  • In Texas, for Hodgkin lymphoma, there are expected to be 691 cases, with 106 deaths.
  • Hodgkin lymphoma occurs most often in early adulthood (especially the 20s) and late adulthood (age 55 and older). The disease is rare in children under 5 years old, but is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in teens from 15 to 19 years old.

Hodgkin Lymphoma Risk Factors

A few risk factors increase the risk of Hodgkin lymphoma; however, many people who are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma may have few or no risk factors.

  • HIV infection
  • Those in their 20s or 
  • 55 and older
  • Mononucleosis/Epstein-Barr virus infection
  • Male gender
  • Siblings with Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Auto-immune diseases
  • Immune suppression after organ transplant


The following may be symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma but could be linked to other health conditions. If the following symptoms are present, individuals are encouraged to consult their physician. A symptom peculiar to Hodgkin lymphoma is alcohol sensitivity, or pain in the lymph nodes after consuming alcohol. Potential symptoms include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes especially in the neck, underarm, or groin
  • Night sweats or unexplained fever
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Coughing and difficulty breathing 
  • Pain behind breast bone
  • Itching
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained pain anywhere in the body following alcohol consumption 


There is no known prevention for Hodgkin lymphoma.

Treatment Options

Hodgkin lymphoma is highly treatable, especially in young patients. Depending on the stage and type, treatment options can vary and may involve one or more members of the cancer care team – hematologists, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists. Treatment options may be tailored based on the type of Hodgkin lymphoma, stage, location, symptoms, age, the patient’s overall health, possible side effects of the treatment, and the patient’s preferences. Treatment can include steroid therapy, chemotherapy, stem cell transplantation, monoclonal antibodies, immunotherapy, radiation, proton therapy surgery, or a combination of treatments.

Sources: American Cancer Society, American Society of Clinical Oncology, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Lymphoma Research Foundation, National Cancer Institute, and Texas Cancer Registry

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