Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Patient Education
Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Overview
The lymphatic system, responsible for your immune system, consists of:
- A network of vessels that carry lymph, a water fluid containing cells that combats infection (lymphocytes), and lymph nodes
- Bone marrow
- Thymus gland
When cells in the lymphatic system grow and replicate too rapidly and in a disorganized fashion, it is considered to be cancerous, giving rise to the development of tumors (lymphomas).
Lymphomas are mainly categorized into two types: Hodgkin’s (HD) and Non-Hodgkin’s (NHL). The difference between Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the type of lymphocyte cell involved. In the former condition, a Reed-Sterm cell is involved, and in the latter, this type of cell is absent.
Two types of white blood cells become cancerous: the T-cells or T-lymphocytes and the B-Cells or B-lymphocytes. Distinguishing between HD and NHL is crucial because the prognosis and treatment can vary greatly between the two.
HD has decreased in the U.S. and represents only 1% of cancers. NHL has increased more than 70% in the last 20 years and represents 4% of cancers, making it the fifth most common cancer with more than 65,000 new cases.
Caucasians are more apt to develop both HD and NHL, though NHL typically appears between 40-70 years of age. In HD, there are two groups that it generally occurs in: adults over 55 and young adults 15-40 years. Both types can occur in children, but under age 5 is rare.
Symptoms of lymphoma may include:
- Increased incidence of infections from decreased immunity
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
- Swelling or enlargement of lymph nodes (typically in neck, groin or armpit)
Occasionally associated with lymphomas, one may experience:
- Red, itchy skin patches
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Abdominal pain
Written by Barbara Hales, MDShow All