Children's Hospital Colorado
Cancer and Blood Disorders

Hodgkin Lymphoma in Children

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What is Hodgkin lymphoma?

Lymphomas are cancers that involve a type of white blood cell called a lymphocyte.

Lymphocytes are part of the lymph system, which includes the lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils, liver, thymus and bone marrow. The lymph system is part of the immune system, which helps the body fight infection.

Lymphomas usually occur in areas of the body where lymphocytes typically live, such as the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus and bone marrow.

There are many types of lymphoma, but they are usually divided into two main categories: Hodgkin lymphoma (also called Hodgkin’s disease) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Lymphoma types are based on how the cancer cells look under a microscope and how the disease progresses. While Hodgkin's lymphoma can develop at any age, it is very rare in young children and most commonly occurs in teenagers between 15 to 19 years of age.

There are two main types of Hodgkin lymphoma: classic Hodgkin lymphoma and nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma. Classic Hodgkin lymphoma is the most common type.

What causes Hodgkin lymphoma?

In almost all cases, we don’t know what causes the Hodgkin lymphoma to develop. The following may increase the risk:

  • Infection by a virus such as the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes infectious mononucleosis, commonly called “mono”
  • Weak immune system, which may be caused by HIV or medicines that suppress the immune system
  • Family history of Hodgkin lymphoma

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Get to know our pediatric experts.

Marilyn Manco-Johnson, MD

Marilyn Manco-Johnson, MD

Hematology/Oncology - Pediatric, Pediatrics

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Carrye Cost, MD

Carrye Cost, MD

Hematology/Oncology - Pediatric, Pediatrics

David Harford, MD

David Harford, MD

Hematology/Oncology - Pediatric, Pediatrics

Anna Franklin, MD

Anna Franklin, MD

Hematology/Oncology - Pediatric, Pediatrics