Delta Medix Patient General Information

Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. The immune system fights infections and other diseases. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system, and includes the lymph vessels, lymph fluid, lymph nodes, tonsils, thymus, and spleen. Because lymphatic tissue is in many parts of the body, Hodgkin's lymphoma can start almost anywhere. Usually it is first found in a lymph node above the diaphragm, the thin muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen.

Hodgkin's lymphoma begins when a cell (lymphocyte) becomes abnormal. The abnormal cell is called a Reed-Sternberg cell. The cell divides to make copies of itself and often forms a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor.

Hodgkin's lymphoma can cause many symptoms

  • Swollen lymph nodes (that do not hurt) in the neck, underarms, or groin
  • Becoming more sensitive to the effects of alcohol or having painful lymph nodes after drinking alcohol
  • Weight loss for no known reason
  • Fever that does not go away
  • Soaking night sweats
  • Itchy skin
  • Coughing, trouble breathing, or chest pain
  • Weakness and tiredness that does not go away

Most often, these symptoms are not due to cancer. Infections or other health problems may also cause these symptoms. Anyone with symptoms that last more than two weeks should see a doctor so that problems can be diagnosed and treated.

Treatment Options for Hodgkin's Lymphoma

  • Chemotherapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma uses drugs to kill lymphoma cells. It is called systemic therapy because the drugs travel through the bloodstream. The drugs can reach lymphoma cells in almost all parts of the body. Usually more than one drug is given. Most drugs for Hodgkin's lymphoma are given through a vein (intravenously), but some are taken by mouth.
  • Radiation Therapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma uses high-energy rays to kill lymphoma cells. It can shrink tumors and help control pain. A large machine aims the rays at the lymph node areas affected by lymphoma. Radiation therapy affects cells in the treated area only.