Proton Therapy for 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 and vessels, spleen, thymus, tonsils, and bone marrow. Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma vary in behavior, treatment reaction, and how each spread.

Hodgkin Lymphoma

Hodgkin lymphoma, or Hodgkin 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, spleen, lungs, and bone marrow. Hodgkin lymphoma can occur in both adults and children.

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Hodgkin Lymphoma Statistics

  • In 2023, about 8,830 Americans will be diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma and about 900 will die from the disease.
  • In Texas, there are expected to be 741 cases of Hodgkin lymphoma, with 91 deaths in 2023.
  • 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 five years old but is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in teens from 15 to 19 years old.
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Hodgkin Lymphoma Risk Factors

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

  • HIV infection
  • Those aged 15-40 or 55 and older
  • Male gender
  • Mononucleosis/Epstein-Barr virus infection
  • Parent or siblings with Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Auto-immune diseases 
  • Immune suppression after organ transplant

Hodgkin Lymphoma Symptoms and Signs 

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 particular 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 breastbone
  • Itching
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained pain anywhere in the body following alcohol consumption

Hodgkin Lymphoma Prevention

There is no known prevention for Hodgkin lymphoma.

Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment

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 antibody therapy, immunotherapy, radiation, proton therapy, or a combination of treatments.

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

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