Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph system. The lymph system is a series of tubes and nodes that run through the body. It contains a fluid that helps fight infections and move waste out of the body.
The cancer starts in a type of lymph cell called a lymphocyte. These cells spread throughout the lymph system. Eventually, the cells will make it harder for your body to fight infections. It is considered a very treatable form of cancer.
The exact cause is not known. A combination of genetic and environmental factors may play a role.
Hodgkins is more likely to occur in males and people between ages 15-40 years or over 55 years. Factors that may increase your risk of Hodgkins lymphoma include:
Symptoms of hodgkins lymphoma may include:
These symptoms can be caused by other less serious conditions. Tell the doctor if your child has any of these symptoms.
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done. The doctor will examine your child’s lymph nodes. Most swollen lymph nodes result from infection, not cancer.
If swelling persists, the doctor may order blood tests to evaluate the liver and blood. The diagnosis will be confirmed by taking a sample of tissue and examining it for the presence of cancer or other abnormalities. The tissue samples will be taken through biopsies such as:
Imaging studies will also be done to see what lymph nodes are involved. Imaging studies may include:
Treatment depends on the stage of the disease. The stage is determined by how far the cancer has spread and what organs are affected.
The healthcare team will work to make a treatment plan for your child. Treatment options may include:
Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body killing mostly cancer cells. With radiation therapy, radiation is directed at a specific area to kill the cancer cells. In many cases, both chemotherapy and radiation are used.
Surgery is not often used for Hodgkin lymphoma. It may be effective if the cancer is isolated to just one lymph node. Surgery will remove the affected lymph node.
Treatment and the cancer itself can damage blood and lymph cells. Transplantation will help the body rebuild these cells after treatment. Transplant options may include:
American Cancer Society
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
Canadian Cancer Society
Lymphoma Foundation Canada
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Hodgkin’s lymphoma in children. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin website. Available at: http://www.chw.org/display/PPF/DocID/21998/router.asp . Accessed June 19, 2013.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/hodgkindisease/detailedguide/index . Accessed June 19, 2013.
Hodgkin disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated March 8, 2013. Accessed June 19, 2013.
Last reviewed March 2013 by Michael Woods, MD