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Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: Cause, Symptoms, and Treatment

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: Cause, Symptoms, and Treatment

Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or Hodgkin’s disease, is a type of blood cancer that develops in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system. It produces lymphocytes or white blood cells, whose main job is to fight off infections and diseases. In Hodgkin’s lymphoma, these cells grow out of control, form a tumor, and spread to the other parts of the body. Read on to learn more about Hodgkin’s lymphoma cause, symptoms, and treatment.

Hodgkin lymphoma is common among young adults, ages 15 to 35, and those over 55. Although Hodgkin’s lymphoma’s main cause is not known, advances in diagnosis and treatment have made it possible for patients to fully recover.

What are the signs and symptoms of Hodgkin’s lymphoma?

The first tell-tale sign of Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the swelling of the lymph nodes, causing a lump to form under the skin. The most common locations where these lumps may form include the side of the neck, in the armpits, and under the groin.

You should also look out for the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Fever
  • Itchy skin
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Chest pain or persistent cough
  • Increased sensitivity to alcohol

Make sure to check in with your doctor once you experience these symptoms to get an accurate diagnosis.

What causes Hodgkin’s lymphoma?

While the Hodgkin’s lymphoma cause hasn’t been accurately identified yet, there are several possible sources.

Some associate Hodgkin’s lymphoma with the Epsetein-Barr virus, which also causes infectious mononucleosis or mono. Studies show that the genome of the virus was found in at least 40% of Hodgkin’s lymphoma cases.

Some also argue that Hodgkin’s lymphoma can be hereditary. You are at high risk of getting the disease if a first-degree relative has had lymphoma.

Whatever the cause may be, all experts agree that this type of blood cancer begins when a lymphocyte develops a genetic mutation.

What are the types of Hodgkin’s lymphoma?

There are two types of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is identified through the kind of cells you have developed, and their behavior. Your treatment plan will be entirely based on this.

Classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma

This is the most common type of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, accounting for 95% of cases. Those who fall under this category have one thing in common: the presence of large, abnormal cells called Reed-Sternberg cells in their lymph nodes.

Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma

This type makes up for the 5% of Hodgkin’s lymphoma cases. People who are diagnosed with this are found to have large cells called “popcorn cells” because of their appearance. This often develops in the lymph nodes found in the neck, groin, and armpit.

Moreover, this type has better prognosis, which results in a higher chance of recovery. This is also common among younger people.

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How is Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosed?

First, a physical exam and review of your medical history will be made to determine if your Hodgkin’s lymphoma cause is hereditary or due to a virus.

The following tests may also be done:

  • Imaging tests, such as CT scans or X-rays
  • Lymph node biopsy
  • Blood tests
  • Bone marrow biopsy
  • Immunophenotyping to determine the type of lymphocytes present

Once the type of Hodgkin’s lymphoma has been determined, your doctor will know which stage your disease is currently at.

Hodgkin lymphoma has four general stages:

  • Stage 1. The cancer is found in only one lymph node region, or body area.
  • Stage 2. The cancer can be found in two lymph node regions, or has spread to a nearby organ.
  • Stage 3. The cancer has moved both above and below the diaphragm, or in an organ opposite your diaphragm.
  • Stage 4. The cancer has spread beyond your lymph nodes, and to other parts of the body, such as the lungs and liver.

Getting an accurate diagnosis and staging are key to a more effective treatment plan.

How is Hodgkin’s lymphoma treated?

Overall, no treatment plan is the same. It will depend on how far your cancer has progressed, and what type of cells you have.

But as in any type of cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma can be treated by chemotherapy. There are instances, however, where the patient may also be required to undergo radiotherapy, as well as steroid medications.

Apart from the biopsy during diagnosis, surgery may not be necessary.

Key takeaway

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a kind of blood cancer, wherein the white blood cells grow out of control. The main cause for this kind of cancer has not yet been determined. However, advances in diagnosis and treatment have paved the way for Hodgin’s lymphoma patients to fully recover from the disease.

If you notice any of the Hodgkin’s lymphoma symptoms, it is important that you visit a doctor immediately for early detection and treatment. Getting the proper diagnosis will be key in designing the perfect treatment plan for you.

Learn more about Other Cancers here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Hodgkin’s lymphoma (Hodgkin’s disease), https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hodgkins-lymphoma/symptoms-causes/syc-20352646

Accessed March 23, 2021 


What Is Hodgkin Lymphoma?, https://www.cancer.org/cancer/hodgkin-lymphoma/about/what-is-hodgkin-disease.html

Accessed March 23, 2021 


Overview: Hodgkin Lymphoma, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hodgkin-lymphoma/

Accessed March 23, 2021 


EBV in Hodgkin Lymphoma, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3033177/#:~:text=Up%20to%2040%25%20of%20Hodgkin,%2DSternberg%20cells%20(HRS).

Accessed March 23, 2021


Differences Between Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, https://moffitt.org/cancers/lymphomas-hodgkin-and-non-hodgkin/faqs/hodgkin-lymphoma-vs-non-hodgkin-lymphoma/

Accessed March 23, 2021 


Adult Hodgkins Lymphoma, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/6206-adult-hodgkins-lymphoma

Accessed March 23, 2021 


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Written by Honey Buenaventura Updated May 03
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel