Hodgkin Lymphoma: Overview

What is Hodgkin lymphoma?

Lymphomas are cancers that involve a type of white blood cell called a lymphocyte. White blood cells are an important part of the immune system that help the body fight infection. Lymphomas usually occur in areas of the body where lymphocytes typically live like the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus and bone marrow.

What is the difference between Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma?

There are many different kinds of lymphoma. They are usually divided into two main categories: Hodgkin lymphoma (also called Hodgkin’s disease) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma , based on how the disease cells look under a microscope and how the disease progresses.

Fortunately, there are very good treatments for Hodgkin lymphoma and most patients with Hodgkin lymphoma are cured.

What causes Hodgkin lymphoma?

As with other cancers, Hodgkin lymphoma is caused by mutations of genes in the cancer cell. This causes the cancer cells to abnormally divide and grow, eventually leading to the development of a tumor .

In almost all cases, we don’t know what causes the lymphoma to develop. Sometimes it may be related to infection by a virus such as the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV causes infectious mononucleosis, commonly called “mono”), although most people who get EBV don’t get lymphoma.

People whose immune systems aren’t working properly, such as people with HIV or people who are taking medicines to suppress their immune systems, can be at higher risk for Hodgkin lymphoma. Very rarely, people in the same family may get Hodgkin lymphoma, indicating that inherited risk factors may play a minor role.

While Hodgkin lymphoma can develop at any age, it is very rare in young children and most commonly occurs in teenagers.

Helpful resources for Hodgkin lymphoma