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Between 8,000 and 9,000 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in the United States each year and the disease is most frequently diagnosed among people between the ages of 20-34, according to data from the National Cancer Institute.
What are the parts of the lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system carries disease-fighting white blood cells throughout the body. It includes:
Lymph: Fluid that carries lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, through the body in a network of lymph vessels, which are like tiny veins. Lymph helps fight against infection and cancer.
Lymph nodes: Tiny, bean-shaped masses found in several parts of the body, including in the underarm, pelvis, neck, abdomen and groin. They filter lymph and store white blood cells to help the body fight disease.
Spleen: An organ on the left side of the abdomen that helps lymphocytes develop, stores blood cells and gets rid of old blood cells.
Thymus: Located in the chest, this tiny organ helps make and develop lymphocytes.
Tonsils: Nodes in the back of the throat that store white blood cells.
Bone marrow: Material in bones that produces blood cells, including white blood cells.
Hodgkin lymphoma diagnoses have been trending down over the last decade and the survival rate is relatively high. The average five-year survival rate across all stages is close to 87%, with a survival rate of greater than 91% in cases confined to a single region (stage I).
Almost all Hodgkin lymphoma cases contain Reed-Sternberg cells, a specific type of large cancer cell that is not found in non-Hodgkin lymphomas. While Hodgkin lymphoma can start in the lymph nodes, it can spread to almost any organ or tissue, including the liver, bone marrow and spleen.
Hodgkin lymphoma is divided into two major types according to how the lymph cells look under a microscope and whether Reed-Sternberg cells are present. Knowing the type of lymphoma helps doctors determine your best treatment.
Classic Hodgkin Lymphoma is the most common type in the United States. It accounts for about 95% of cases and is the most curable Hodgkin lymphoma. Subtypes include:
- Nodular Sclerosing Hodgkin Lymphoma: The affected lymph nodes have mixed areas of normal cells, Reed-Sternberg cells and prominent scar tissue. This is the most common type, making up 60% to 80% of cases. It is more common in adolescents and young adults, but it can occur atany age.
- Mixed Cellularity Hodgkin Lymphoma: The affected lymph nodes contain many Reed-Sternberg cells in addition to several other cell types. Mixed cellularity accounts for about 25% to 30% of cases of Hodgkin lymphoma. It primarily affects people with HIV, but also children and older adults.
- Lymphocyte-Rich Hodgkin Lymphoma: This recently created subtype in the past was sometimes confused with lymphocyte-predominant lymphoma. It is similar to mixed cellularity Hodgkin lymphoma.
- Lymphocyte Depletion Hodgkin Lymphoma: Large numbers of Reed-Sternberg cells, but very few other cell types, are found in the lymph nodes. This is the least common form of Hodgkin lymphoma, and it is seen more often in people who are elderly or have HIV.
Nodular Lymphocyte-Predominant Hodgkin Lymphoma: This rare disease accounts for just 5% of Hodgkin lymphoma diagnoses and is most common among men between age 35 and 40. Unlike other types of Hodgkin lymphoma, it produces no Reed-Sternberg cells. It is usually diagnosed at an early stage and has an excellent survival rate.
Anything that increases your chance of getting Hodgkin lymphoma is a risk factor. Although Hodgkin lymphoma usually develops in people who have no risk factors, the following things may mean you are more likely to develop it:
- Age: Hodgkin lymphoma is most common in young adults (15 to 40 years old) and older adults (over 55 years old).
- Gender: Males are slightly more likely to develop Hodgkin lymphoma.
- Viruses: The risk is small, but some viruses may make you more likely to get Hodgkin lymphoma. These include:
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
- Infectious mononucleosis (mono)
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Human T-cell lymphocytotropic virus (HTLV)
- Family history: If you have a parent, brother or sister with Hodgkin lymphoma, you have an increased risk of developing the disease.
Not everyone with risk factors gets Hodgkin lymphoma. However, if you have risk factors, you should discuss them with your doctor.
Learn more about Hodgkin lymphoma:
Why choose MD Anderson for your Hodgkin lymphoma treatment?
Our team of experts is one of the few focused only on lymphoma. While most oncologists see only one or two Hodgkin lymphoma patients a year, we treat hundreds annually, giving us a remarkable depth of experience and expertise.
At MD Anderson, you are cared for by a team of some of the nation's top authorities on lymphoma. They draw upon the latest and
Innovative, Advanced Options
As one of the world's leaders in lymphoma advances, we constantly work to pioneer new treatments that are effective and have the least impact on your body. For instance, MD Anderson has helped advance the development of several new targeted therapies for Hodgkin lymphoma. And we are studying several biomarkers to guide the future development of even more personalized therapies.
Whether you recently have been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma or have battled the disease for years, we can help.
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