Hodgkin Lymphoma: Patient Education

Cancer Facts

According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society:

  • Incidence rates for Hodgkin lymphoma tend to be higher among males than females.
  • In the United States in 2010, there [were] 153,535 people living with Hodgkin lymphoma (active disease or in remission).
  • The five-year relative survival rate for patients with Hodgkin lymphoma has increased dramatically from 40 percent in whites from 1960 to 1963 to almost 88 percent for all races from 1999 to 2006.

According to the American Cancer Society:

  • The one-year relative survival rate (the percentage of people who survive at least one year after the cancer is detected, excluding those who die from other diseases) of patients with Hodgkin lymphoma is 92 percent. The five-year and ten-year relative survival rates are 85 percent and 81 percent, respectively.

Overview

Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph tissue found in your lymph nodes, spleen, liver, bone marrow and other sites. It’s one of the most curable cancers.

Hodgkin lymphoma is characterized by the presence of large abnormal cells, called Reed-Sternberg cells. The disease is less common than non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Reed-Sternberg cells are derived from B-cell lymphocytes (white blood cells). Reed-Sternberg cells are specific to Hodgkin lymphoma. They’re not found in non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

In most cases, Hodgkin lymphoma begins in your B-cell lymphocytes in the lymph nodes in your neck, although any lymph node may be the site of initial disease. If it spreads, it may spread to your:

  • Liver
  • Bone marrow
  • Bones

Two Types of Hodgkin Lymphoma

There are two kinds of Hodgkin lymphoma.

Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma

  • Includes nodular sclerosis and mixed cellularity lymphomas
  • Most common type

Nodular Lymphocyte-Predominant Hodgkin Lymphoma

  • Occurs in about 5 percent of patients
  • Generally has a good prognosis

Hodgkin lymphomas comprise only 5 to 10 percent of all lymphomas.

Hodgkin lymphoma is named for Thomas Hodgkin, MD, who first described malignant abnormalities in lymph nodes in 1832.

On a more personal note, my philosophy about seeing patients stems from some of my own experiences. I've had cancer before. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma and got to experience chemotherapy and radiation treatment and all that goes with it. Fortunately, I am free of disease. My philosophy is that I like to treat people in the same way I wanted to be treated when I was a patient. That includes an explanation about what’s happening, what is the disease, what are the chances we can fix it, what the treatment is going to be like. And from my perspective from having gone through it previously, I can explain what patients can expect from the side effects of the treatment, as well as some of the emotional aspects of what you go through dealing with the diagnosis.

Mark H. Holguin, MD, Hematology/Oncology; Chief – Section of Hematology

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