Note: The information on cancer types on the ACRF website is not designed to provide medical or professional advice and is for information only. If you have any health problems or questions please consult your doctor.
Hodgkin lymphoma, also called Hodgkin Disease, or Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, is cancer of the lymphatic system. It most commonly starts in the lymph nodes in the neck, but can also start in lymph nodes located in the collarbone, the armpit, the groin and inside the chest.
It is important to note that glands can swell in these areas due to the body reacting to infection, and are not just associated with cancer, which is why a biopsy is needed to diagnose lymphoma.
There are two main types of Hodgkin lymphoma:
Classical Hodgkin lymphoma: 95% of patients with Hodgkin lymphoma are diagnosed with classical Hodgkin lymphoma. It is also the most common type of Hodgkin lymphoma to affect children.
Classical Hodgkin lymphoma can be separated into four sub-categories:
Lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma: Only affects 5% of patients. Lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma usually grows at a slower rate than classical Hodgkin lymphoma and normally requires less intensive treatment.
The risk of Hodgkin lymphoma is increased if you contract a disease that lowers your immune system. Other risk factors for Hodgkin lymphoma include the following:
The first sign of classical Hodgkin lymphoma is usually a painless swelling of one gland, or a group of lymph glands, which continues for some weeks or even months.
The first glands that are likely to be affected are in the neck or above the collarbone, most often only on one side. However, it’s important to remember that glands can also become swollen with common infection, causing a sore throat or a cold.
Patients with Lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma may have a single swollen gland or group of swollen glands in one area only, such as the neck or groin. The swollen gland often grows very slowly and may be present for many months before a biopsy and diagnosis happens.
If glands in the chest are affected, this can cause a cough or breathlessness, due to the pressure of the glands on the airways.
Sometimes, patients with Hodgkin lymphoma may suffer:
The most common treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma is chemotherapy along with radiation.
Those with low-risk Hodgkin lymphoma often have up to six months of chemotherapy. For intermediate-risk disease, chemotherapy treatment usually lasts from four to six months and for high-risk disease about five to seven months.
Overall, 80% to 95% of Hodgkin lymphoma patients are cured of their disease, however, this rate depends on the stage of the lymphoma, the size of any tumours, how the patient tolerates the therapy and other factors including current health.
If a tumour is present, your doctors may suggest surgery, however, this is not very common.
Usually, they will remove a whole lymph node for the purpose of a biopsy to test whether or not Hodgkin Lymphoma is present. In some cases, doctors may remove a smaller sample from another tumour site.
If relapse occurs after treatment, the patient will then be treated with high doses of chemotherapy combined with a hematopoietic cell, or stem cell, transplant.
However, such high doses of chemotherapy can damage the bone marrow resulting in the marrow not being able to make new blood cells. Bone marrow or stem cells treatment will, therefore, be given through a vein. This is called an infusion.
Sometimes a patient’s stem cells will be extracted before chemotherapy and stored so they can be used for treatment afterwards. This is called an autologous stem cell transplant.
In rare cases, or if the Hodgkin lymphoma comes back after the transplant, doctors may perform an allogeneic stem cell transplant (stem cells which come from a donor whose cells closely match the patient’s cells). For either type of transplant, radiation is given before the transplant or after they recover from the transplant.
The treatment plan will be based on the type of lymphoma, the stage of the disease, how far it has spread and patient’s overall health.
new cases are estimated to be diagnosed in 2018
is the five-year survival rate for hodgkin lymphoma
years is the median age of diagnosis
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Cancer in Australia 2017, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
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