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Hodgkin Lymphoma

(Hodgkin's Lymphoma; Hodgkin's Disease)

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Aug 2021| Content last modified Aug 2021
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What is Hodgkin lymphoma?

Lymphoma is cancer of a type of white blood cell called a lymphocyte. Lymphocytes and other white blood cells help your body fight disease.

Lymphocytes travel through your blood vessels and then through your lymphatic system. Your lymphatic system is made up of lymph nodes and lymph vessels. Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped organs that fight disease and are in your neck, groin, and armpits.

Lymphatic System: Helping Defend Against Infection

Lymphatic System: Helping Defend Against Infection

In lymphoma, lymphocytes grow out of control. They build up in your lymph nodes and sometimes in your liver, spleen, and inside your bones (bone marrow).

What causes Hodgkin lymphoma?

Doctors don’t know what causes Hodgkin lymphoma. It isn't something you can catch from other people.

What are the symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma?

Symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma include:

  • Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck, armpit, or groin—these are usually painless but may hurt for a few hours after drinking alcohol

  • Fever

  • Night sweats

  • Weight loss

  • Itching

  • Feeling weak and tired

Other symptoms may happen depending on where the cancer cells are growing. For example, enlarged lymph nodes in your chest may press on your airways causing you to cough or have difficulty breathing.

How can doctors tell if I have Hodgkin lymphoma?

Doctors suspect Hodgkin lymphoma when you have a lot of enlarged, painless lymph nodes that don't go away after a few weeks.

To make the diagnosis, doctors do a:

  • Biopsy (making a small cut to take out an enlarged lymph node to look at under a microscope)

Before doctors treat you for Hodgkin lymphoma, they need to see how far it has spread. Doctors use several tests to check the spread of Hodgkin lymphoma, such as:

How do doctors treat Hodgkin lymphoma?

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