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Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system that afflicts about 8,490 people a year. The survival rate is close to 90% for those cancers diagnosed before the disease has spread to distant organs.
*Source: American Cancer Society

Hodgkin Lymphoma Overview

WellStar Health System provides superior care for Hodgkin lymphoma, offering a comprehensive spectrum of top-notch physicians, treatment options and diagnostic tools. In addition, WellStar offers such innovative advances in the fight against Hodgkin lymphoma, including:

  • The entire spectrum of diagnostic and interventional treatments – including CT and PET scanning, ultrasounds and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Pathologists who specialize in the diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • A Tumor Board, which holds weekly meetings of a multidisciplinary team, for review of complex case
  • Clinical trials - making novel therapies available to patients
  • Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), a treatment that allows for the radiation to be tailored to the size and placement of the tumor, while sparing healthy tissue.
  • Medical oncologists with special interest in lymphoma therapy

Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, a key component of the immune system. The lymphatic system is made up of lymph nodes, or glands, which are located in various places throughout the body. Lymph nodes are in your neck, near your armpits and in your abdomen and groin. They are connected by small vessels called lymphatics. The lymphatic system also includes the thymus gland, spleen and bone marrow. Together, the different parts of the lymphatic system help the body fight disease.

There are two types of cancers that originate in the lymphatic system – Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Hodgkin lymphoma is the more rare of the two. While both are cancers of the lymphatic system, they differ in their pattern of spread through the body and in the aggressiveness of growth. Because of the differences, the symptoms and treatment can be different.

Hodgkin lymphoma is characterized by the presence of large cells that have the appearance of “owl eyes” which are called the Reed-Sternberg cells, can only be detected on biopsy read by a pathologist.


Symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma include:

  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, underarms, or groin. These may not necessarily be painful.
  • Becoming more sensitive to the effects of alcohol or having painful lymph nodes after drinking alcohol
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Prolonged fever
  • Drenching night sweats
  • Itchy skin
  • Coughing, trouble breathing, or chest pain
  • Persistent fatigue

Risk Factors

The risk factors for Hodgkin lymphoma may include:

  • Certain viral infections, such as the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) or HIV
  • A weakened immune system, such as through certain genetic disorders, prolonged infection or through an organ transplant
  • Age. Those between 15 and 35 or older than 55 are at slightly elevated risk.
  • Gender. Males are slightly more at risk.
  • Family history. If a person has a brother or sister with Hodgkin lymphoma, he or she is at slightly elevated risk. This may be because of environmental exposures rather than genetics, however.