A cancer of the lymphatic system, Hodgkin’s lymphoma is different from other types of lymphoma—just as no two of our patients at Great Lakes Cancer Care are alike.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma occurs when a type of blood cell called a lymphocyte begins dividing in an uncontrolled way. From there, these malignant cells can form throughout the lymph system. The exact causes that lead to Hodgkin’s lymphoma are unknown, but with the right care, this type of cancer is often curable.
There are several symptoms that often accompany Hodgkin's lymphoma. Common symptoms include:
- Painless swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin
- Persistent fatigue
- Night sweats
- Unexplained fever
- Weight loss
- Decreased appetite
A risk factor is anything that increases your chances of developing Hodgkin's lymphoma. While some factors cannot be controlled, like your age and family history, there are many that can. Some risk factors include:
- Family history
- History of infectious mononucleosis or Epstein-Barr virus
- Weakened immune system, including HIV infection or AIDS
- More common in men than women
- More common in ages 15-40 and 55+
To diagnose Hodgkin's lymphoma, a doctor will first ask about your symptoms and medical history. From there, your doctor will perform a physical exam, paying attention to your lymph nodes. Additional testing or scans might also be needed, including:
- Blood tests
- Lymph node biopsy
- CT scan
- PET/CT scan
- Gallium scan
Rarely, abdominal surgery may be needed to remove the spleen or biopsy the liver, but the accuracy of today's noninvasive scans minimizes the need.
Hodgkin's lymphoma is generally considered one of the more curable types of cancer. Our collaborative team will work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan for your unique situation, including the stage of your disease, location of affected lymph node(s) and other factors. Types of treatment include:
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. If you receive chemotherapy, you will be seen by a medical oncologist. Chemotherapy can be given in many forms, including by pill, injection or catheter. The drugs then travel throughout your body to kill the cancer cells.
Radiation Therapy Treatment
We are proud to offer the latest radiation treatment techniques. Our goal is to deliver a high dose of radiation to the specific area from outside the body, without harming the surrounding healthy tissues. With state-of-the-art technology, we can maximize the destruction of cancer cells and your potential for a cure, while minimizing your risk of side effects and chance of a recurrence. If you receive radiation therapy, you will be seen by a radiation oncologist.
Patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma often receive both chemotherapy and radiation. In cases where the cancer does not respond to these treatments, other options include:
Bone Marrow Transplant
For a bone marrow transplant, marrow is first removed, then treated with large doses of chemotherapy or radiation. After that, the bone marrow (either your own treated marrow or marrow from a healthy donor) is replaced via a vein.
Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplant
Stem cells are very immature cells that produce blood cells. These cells are removed from circulating blood before chemotherapy or radiation treatment and replaced afterwards.
For some patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma, the care team may recommend surgical removal of the spleen, an organ that's part of the lymphatic system.