Hodgkin lymphoma, also called Hodgkin disease, is a cancer that originates from lymphatic tissue. Lymphatic tissue is found in the lymph nodes and related organs (spleen, bone marrow, tonsils and thymus) and composes the body’s immune and blood-forming systems.

Colorado Blood Cancer Institute (CBCI) specializes in various consultations and treatments for patients with Hodgkin lymphoma.

Hodgkin Lymphoma Causes

It is unclear what exactly causes Hodgkin lymphoma. Normal functioning lymph nodes make and store infection-fighting white blood cells called lymphocytes. However, in Hodgkin lymphoma, cancer cells created from a type of malignant lymphocyte divide rapidly, causing an accumulation in the lymphatic system while simultaneously crowding out healthy cells.

Hodgkin lymphoma occurs slightly more often in males, those in early adulthood and later in life. Patients with relatives with Hodgkin lymphoma are also more likely to develop the disease, but most patients do not have previous family history of the disease. Certain viral infections may also be associated with developing Hodgkin lymphoma.

Hodgkin Lymphoma Symptoms

Common early signs of Hodgkin lymphoma include:

  • Painless swelling in the lymph nodes of the neck, upper chest, interior of the chest, armpit, abdomen or groin
  • Fever and sweating (especially at night)
  • Weight loss
  • Itching
  • Enlarged spleen or abdomen (some cases)
  • General fatigue

The disease usually begins in the lymph nodes in one region of the body and, as the disease progresses, spreads to nearby lymph nodes before moving into organs and bone marrow.

The diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma requires the biopsy of an involved lymph node or disease site.

Doctors will use the following tests to diagnose and stage Hodgkin lymphoma:

  • Physical examination and history
  • Complete blood count and other blood work
  • Chest x-ray
  • CT scan of the neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis
  • PET scan
  • Bone marrow biopsy

Once Hodgkin lymphoma has been diagnosed, information from the studies helps the hematologist determine the stage of the disease. The team then determines the best treatment method moving forward.

Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment

Prognosis and treatment options depend on a number of factors including:

  • Symptoms
  • Stage and type of Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Blood test results
  • Patient’s age, gender and general health
  • Whether the cancer is recurring and/or aggressively spreading

Adult Hodgkin lymphoma can often be cured if found and treated early. Generally, patients with Hodgkin lymphoma are initially treated with medications, and sometimes radiation therapy is also employed..

The physicians at Colorado Blood Cancer Institute are experts at providing care suited to the unique needs of each patient. CBCI is also constantly studying new options to treat Hodgkin lymphoma to achieve the best outcomes for our patients.