Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (HL), also known as Hodgkin’s Disease, was originally discovered and named after the British doctor, Thomas Hodgkin, in 1832, long before the existence and function of Lymphocytes were known. Because then origin and cause of the disease was unknown, doctors referred to this illness as Hodgkin’s Disease. The cellular origin of the disease is now known to be a lymphocyte, and, as a result, the disease is a type of Lymphoma.
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is the least common form of Lymphoma. In fact, out of the 30 subtypes of Lymphoma, only 5 types are Hodgkins Lymphoma. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is not a single disease, but rather a group of several closely related cancers that affect the Lymphatic System, which is part of the Immune System.
Hodgkins Lymphoma is a cancer which arises from an abnormal lymphocyte (white blood cell). HL usually starts in the lymph nodes, and cancerous cells spread throughout the body via the lymphatic vessels. HL often spreads from one lymph node to another and can also spread to organs outside the lymph system.
Unlike other Lymphomas, HL tends to tends to spread in sequence from one lymph node to the next within the same area, as opposed to Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (NHL) which can skip around the body.
Hodgkins Lymphoma mostly occurs in young adults, with a peak occurrence between ages 16 and 34. Older patients, especially those over the age of 55, may also develop HL.
HL has been studied more than any other type of Lymphoma. With the many rapid advances in diagnosis and treatment, over 80% of patients with HL can be cured.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common symptoms of Hodgkins Lymphoma (HL) include:
swelling of the lymph nodes (usually painless)
unexplained weight loss
lack of energy
Please Note: These symptoms may be caused by a range of conditions, and their presence does NOT necessarily mean that you have HL. In fact, most people who have these symptoms will not have Lymphoma at all. However, anyone with several or more of these symptoms should seek immediate medical advice, especially if the symptoms are persistent.
People with Lymphoma (or another condition) often first go to a doctor because they think they have a cold, flu, or some other respiratory infection that does not go away.
Coughing, chest discomfort, and/or shortness of breath may also be signs of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, especially if it is present in the chest.
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma usually does not cause any pain, especially in the early stages of development.
About 5% of patients may experience pain at the tumor site after drinking alcoholic beverages. While this symptom is rare, it is usually a characteristic sign of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.