Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system.

In Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cells in the lymphatic system grow abnormally and may spread beyond the lymphatic system. As the disease progresses, it compromises the body’s ability to fight infection.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is one of two common types of cancers of the lymphatic system. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the other more common type of cancer.



Symptoms of Hodgkin’s lymphoma include:


  • Swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Fever and chills
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Itching

Increased sensitivity to the effects of alcohol or pain in the lymph nodes after alcohol consumption



The exact cause of Hodgkin’s lymphoma is unclear. However, experts believe it occurs when a B cell, an infection-fighting cell, develops a mutation in its DNA. The mutation stimulates the cells to divide more rapidly and continue living when normal healthy cells would die. The large numbers of oversized B cells accumulate in the lymphatic system and exceed the number of healthy cells thus causing the symptoms of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.


There are various types of Hodgkin’s lymphoma based on the types of cells involved.


Classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the most common type of the disease, which can be divided into subtypes. In a classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma there are large abnormal cells called Reed-Sternberg cells found in the lymph nodes.


Subtypes of classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma:


  • Nodular sclerosis Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Mixed cellularity Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Lymphocyte-depleted Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Lymphocyte-rich classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma


Lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin’s lymphoma

This type of the disease is diagnosed in rare cases and involves large, abnormal cells with a popcorn-like appearance. If this type of Hodgkin’s lymphoma is diagnosed at an early stage there is a better chance of a cure.


Risk factors

Risk factors for Hodgkin’s lymphoma include:


  • Age: Most cases of Hodgkin’s lymphoma are found in people aged between 15 and 30 as well as older than 55.
  • Family history: Family history of the same disease increases the risk of developing Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • Gender: Men have a higher risk of developing the disease.
  • Epstein-Barr infection: Prior illnesses caused by the Epstein-Barr virus increase the risk of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • Weakened immune system: A compromised immune system from HIV/AIDS or an organ transplant, which require medications to suppress the immune system response increase the risk of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.