Hodgkin Lymphoma General Info

Adult Hodgkin lymphoma is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the lymph system. Below is information we’ve aggregated from multiple leading sources of Hodgkin lymphoma information, primarily the National Cancer Institute.


What are the different types of Hodgkin lymphoma?

There are two main types of Hodgkin lymphoma: classical and nodular lymphocyte-predominant.

What are the main signs of Hodgkin lymphoma?

  • Swollen lymph nodes: painless in the neck, underarm, or groin

  • Fever (for no known reason)

  • Night sweats that can be drenching

  • “Unexplained” weight loss

  • Some others:

    • Itchy skin

    • Feeling very tired

What factors affect the risk of Hodgkin's?

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Epstein-Barr infection

List the usual tests used to diagnose Hodgkin's

Tests that examine the lymph nodes are used to detect (find) and diagnose adult Hodgkin lymphoma.

  • Physical exam & history Your doctor performs an exam checking general signs of health, along with lumps that could be swollen lymph nodes, including in your neck, underarm and groin.

  • Blood tests Usually a “Complete Blood Count" ( CBS) test where a sample of blood is drawn and then examined in a lab for the following:

    • The number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

    • The amount of hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen) in the red blood cells.

    • The portion of the sample made up of red blood cells.

  • LDH test Another blood test to check the amount of lactic dehydrogenase. Increased levels could signal tissue damage, lymphoma, or other diseases.

  • Hepatitis B and hepatitis C test Blood is drawn to measure the amounts of hepatitis B virus-specific antigens and/or antibodies and the amounts of hepatitis C virus-specific antibodies, which are called “markers.” Different markers or combinations of markers are used to determine whether a patient has a hepatitis B or C infection, has had a prior infection or vaccination, or is susceptible to infection.

  • Imaging tests These scans are used to look for signs of Hodgkin's lymphoma in other areas of your body. These include an X-ray, CT (CAT scan) and positron emission tomography (PET), or PET-CT scan.

    • With contrast Dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed in order to help highlight the tissues and/or organs on the scan

    • PET-CT The scans are done on the same machine at the same time to give a more detailed picture. A small amount of “sugar” (radioactive glucose) is injected into a vein to highlight malignant tumor cells.

    • For pregnant women Tests are used to protect the fetus from radiation harms:

      • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): A procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI).

      • Ultrasound exam: A procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram.

  • Lymph node biopsy Removing a lymph node for laboratory testing. The doctor will diagnose classical Hodgkin's lymphoma if abnormal cells called Reed-Sternberg cells are found within the lymph node.

    • Excisional biopsy The removal of an entire lymph node.

    • Incisional biopsy The removal of part of a lymph node.

    • Core biopsy The removal of tissue from a lymph node using a wide needle.

  • Bone marrow biopsy Removing a sample of bone marrow for testing involves inserting a needle into your hipbone to remove a sample of bone marrow. The sample is analyzed to look for Hodgkin's lymphoma cells.

What are the different stages of Hodgkin lymphoma?

  • Stage I. The cancer is limited to a single lymph node region or one organ.

  • Stage II.  The cancer is in two lymph node areas or the cancer has invaded one organ and the nearby lymph nodes, but the cancer is still limited to a section of the body either above or below the diaphragm.

  • Stage III. When the cancer moves to lymph nodes both above and below the diaphragm. Cancer may also be in one portion of tissue or an organ near the lymph node groups or in the spleen.

  • Stage IV. This is the most advanced stage of Hodgkin's lymphoma. Cancer cells are in several portions of one or more organs and tissues. Stage IV Hodgkin's lymphoma affects not only the lymph nodes but also other parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs or bones.

What factors affect prognosis (change of recovery) and options for treatment?

The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:

  • The patient's signs and symptoms

  • Cancer stage

  • Type of Hodgkin lymphoma

  • Blood test results.

  • Patient's age, gender, general health.

  • Whether the cancer is recurrent or progressive.

For Hodgkin lymphoma during pregnancy, treatment options also depend on:

  • The wishes of the patient.

  • The age of the fetus.

Adult Hodgkin lymphoma can usually be cured if found and treated early. (NCI)