Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph tissue, which can be found in the lymph nodes, spleen and other organs of the immune system. There are two types of Hodgkin lymphoma, which are known as nodular and classical Hodgkin’s. The classical form is further divided into four subtypes and is characterized by the presence of what are known as "Reed–Sternberg cells" (overgrown B-cells). Although Hodgkin lymphoma starts in the bone marrow, it may also spread to other tissues of the body, depending on the stage and how aggressive the type is. Anyone can get Hodgkin lymphoma, but there are some factors that increase one’s risks. People who have or have had the Epstein-Barr virus (also known as mono or mononucleosis) or HIV are at an increased risk, as well as those with a family history of the condition. Additionally, males, young adults and the elderly, and people from the U.S., Canada, or Europe are more likely to develop Hodgkin lymphoma than women, children, or people from other geographic locations.
The most common symptom is one or more enlarged lymph node(s), but enlargement of the spleen or liver may also be a sign. Other symptoms include night sweats, unexplained weight loss, itching, back pain, and red colored patched on the skin. The most effective and commonly used method for diagnosis is a lymph node biopsy, in which the lymph node is cut open and examined. Scans such as the PET or CT scans may be used as well to determine where the cancer is or how far it has spread and the appropriate treatment options. Treatment varies depending on the individual's weight, age, and size as well as the severity of the cancer. Treatment generally involves chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of the two. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms or think you have Hodgkin lymphoma.