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What is Hodgkin lymphoma?

Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system. HL starts when there is a change to the DNA of a white blood cell, known as a lymphocyte. When a person has HL, the lymphocytes become cancerous and grow out of control, spreading to other parts of the body.

There are nearly 9,000 new cases of Hodgkin lymphoma each year. This condition occurs in both children and adults; however, it is most common in young adults between the ages of 15 and 35 and in older adults over 50. The five-year survival rate is 88%.

What are the symptoms associated with Hodgkin lymphoma?

Symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma may include:

Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarm or groin

Unexplained Fever

Night sweats

Unexplained weight loss

Itchy skin


Loss of appetite

Cough, trouble breathing, chest pain

How is Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosed?

To diagnosis HL, tests and procedures may include:

  • a physical exam to check for swollen lymph nodes
  • blood tests to determine general health and search for signs of cancer
  • imaging tests, such as X-ray, CT and PET, to search for HL in other areas of the body
  • bone marrow biopsy or aspiration to check for advanced stage HL

How is Hodgkin lymphoma treated?

HL is considered one of the more curable forms of cancer, and with new drugs and research, treatment options are changing. Treatment may include:

  • chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells
  • targeted therapy using drugs that attack specific cancer cells
  • radiation therapy to kill cancer cells and stop them from spreading
  • immunotherapy to help the immune system fight cancer
  • hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) to replace the unhealthy lymphocytes with healthy ones

Despite the availability of highly effective, early-line treatments, new therapies are needed for individuals who are ineligible for or who progress after HSCT.