Hodgkin’s lymphoma — formerly known as Hodgkin’s disease — is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system. It may affect people of any age, but is most common in people between 20 and 40 years old and those over 55. In Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cells in the lymphatic system grow abnormally and may spread beyond it.1
Classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the more common type of this disease. People diagnosed with this disease have large, abnormal cells called Reed-Sternberg cells in their lymph nodes. Subtypes of classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma include:1
- Nodular sclerosis Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Mixed cellularity Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Lymphocyte-depleted Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Lymphocyte-rich Hodgkin’s lymphoma1
Some common signs and symptoms include:1
- Painless swelling of lymph nodes in your neck, armpits or groin
- Persistent fatigue
- Night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
- Severe itching
- Increased sensitivity to the effects of alcohol or pain in your lymph nodes after drinking alcohol1
Causes and Risk Factors
Factors that can increase the risk of Hodgkin’s lymphoma include:1
- Age: Hodgkin’s lymphoma is most often diagnosed in people between 15 and 30 years old and those over 55.
- A family history of lymphoma: Having a blood relative with Hodgkin’s lymphoma or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma increases your risk of developing Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
- Gender: Males are slightly more likely to develop Hodgkin’s lymphoma than are females.
- Certain types of infections: People who have had illnesses caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, such as infectious mononucleosis, are more likely to develop Hodgkin’s lymphoma than are people who haven’t had Epstein-Barr infections.1