Hodgkin's Lymphoma (Hodgkin's Disease)

Reed-Sternberg cell

Hodgkin's Lymphoma is characterized by the presence of a special type of lymphatic cell called a Reed-Sternberg (RS) cell. These cells are giant lymphocytes derived from B-cells. Because they are larger than healthy B-lymphocytes, and they often look like "owl's eyes," diagnosis is easily made when cells are examined under a microscope.

Hodgkin's Lymphoma can affect the lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow, and other internal organs.

According to the National Cancer Institute, there will be approximately 8,510 new cases in 2009. It is more common in young adults and elderly patients.

Due to advancements in treatment, survival rates in the first years are over 90%. The five-year survival rate is 86%.


The symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma are not easily distinguished from lymphoma symptoms in general. They include:

  • Painless, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin
  • Fever
  • Night Sweats
  • Weight Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Itchy or sensitive skin

Diagnosis and Staging

Hodgkin's Lymphoma is diagnosed and staged using one or more tests. These tests include:

  • Physical exam
  • Lymph node biopsy
  • Bone marrow biopsy
  • Blood tests
  • Chest X-ray
  • CT Scan
  • PET Scan
  • MRI
  • Ultrasound

The staging of the disease is as follows:

Stage I
Cancerous cells are found in only one lymph node group or one area outside of the lymphatic system.
Stage II
Two lymph groups are affected on the same side of the diaphragm, or one lymph group and a nearby organ are affected.
Stage III
Lymph groups on both sides of the diaphragm are involved. Lymph cells may also have moved to one internal organ, such as the liver or lungs. Cells may also have metastasized to the spleen.
Stage IV
More than one organ is involved. Bone marrow may also be affected.

Common Treatments

As with other lymphomas, there are a variety of treatments that may be used alone or in combination:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Combination chemotherapy and radiation
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation


For more information on incidence rates please see Hodgkin's Lymphoma Incidence Rates. According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in 2008:

  • 8,220 new cases of Hodgkin's disease were diagnosed: 4,400 males and 3,820 females.
  • Of all new cases of cancer diagnosed, 11.1% were Hodgkin's disease.
  • Hodgkin's disease occurs most commonly in people 15-40 years old; then again after 60 years.
  • Out of 10,730 children under the age of 15 diagnosed with cancer, only 3.7% had Hodgkin's disease.
  • Hodgkin's disease is rare in young children under the age of 5.

Dive Deeper

Hodgkin Lymphoma Resources

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