Debra Wood, RN and Michael Jubinville, MPH
Hodgkin lymphoma (Hodgkin disease) is a cancer of the lymphatic system. Cancer is a disease in which cells grow in an abnormal way. Normally, new cells develop in a controlled manner to replace old or damaged cells. With lymphoma, certain cells of the lymph system develop abnormally and grow at an abnormal rate. The lymph system is part of the immune system that helps fight off infections and illnesses. Hodgkin lymphoma can make the body more vulnerable to other illnesses and infections.
All blood cells start as stem cells in the bone marrow. Stem cells then mature into a variety of different blood cell types that have specific functions in the body. Hodgkin lymphoma is an abnormality with a type of white blood cells called lymphocytes. There are different types of lymphocytes, but the main types are:
The lymphatic system is a network of fluid, vessels, organs, and lymph nodes throughout the body. The network carries fluids and immune cells. Lymphoid tissues and organs include:
Lymphatic tissue can also be found throughout the body in the digestive tract, nervous system, and skin.
With Hodgkin lymphoma, there is an excessive development of B-cell lymphocytes. These cancerous cells are also abnormal and not able to carry out normal function of B-cells. The abnormal lymphocytes can also crowd out healthy cells in the lymph nodes, decreasing the number of effective cells and weakening the immune system. Cancerous blood cells also circulate in the blood and lymph systems and can gather in organs like the spleen, bone marrow, lungs, and liver.
There are 2 types of Hodgkin lymphoma based on their appearance under a microscope:
In general, Hodgkin lymphoma is rare, but it is treatable and has a high cure rate.
General information about adult Hodgkin lymphoma. National Cancer Institute
website. Available at:
Updated October 27, 2015. Accessed February 29, 2016.
American Cancer Society website. Available at:
Accessed February 29, 2016.
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
website. Available at:
http://www.lls.org/lymphoma/hodgkin-lymphoma?src1=20045&src2=. Accessed February 29, 2016.
Hodgkin lymphoma (HL). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114957/Hodgkin-lymphoma-HL. Updated July 29, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Last reviewed March 2015 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
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