Hodgkin lymphoma also referred to as Hodgkin’s disease is cancer that affects the cells that make up the part of the body’s immune system (lymphatic system) called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that help the body’s defense system in the fight against infections. There are two types of lymphocytes; B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes. Hodgkin lymphoma typically affects the B-cells of the lymphatic system.  These malignant B-cells will multiply, leading to a tumor in the lymph tissue such as the bone marrow or spleen. The development of tumor in the affected tissues causes them to lose its function, and can gradually lead to the failure of the body system. Hodgkin lymphoma is known for orderly metastasis (a spread of cancer cells from its primary site to another part of the body). If a malignancy started at the lymph nodes located in the neck, there could be gradual spread to adjacent lymph nodes; the lymph nodes located near the collar bone, then at the armpits, and so on will be affected. The other form of lymphomas is referred to as non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

One major behavior of cancer cells is that they grow out of control. The abnormal cells that result from Hodgkin lymphoma are called Reed-Sternberg cells.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is classified into two classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma (CHL) and the nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NLPHL). The type of Hodgkin’s lymphoma that is seen depends on the Reed-Sternberg cell morphology that is found.

 

Causes: The main cause of Hodgkin disease is not known. The condition is linked to gene changes or mutation, as well as to the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and persons with depleted immune system caused by viruses like HIV. Hodgkin lymphoma can affect individuals at any age, though high incidence of this disease has been reported for persons between ages 15 and 40 and  over age 55.

 

Potential Risk Factors:These factors listed may indicate the possibility of you developing Hodgkin lymphoma:

  • Family history: people with a parent, brother or sister with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, may be at higher risk of developing the condition.
  • Gender: records show that more males are affected as compared to women.
  • Age group: Hodgkin’s lymphoma is most common in young adults ( ages15 to 40 ) and adults over 55 years old.
  • Viruses: The risk is small, though the following viruses may increase your susceptibility of getting Hodgkin’s lymphoma. These include:

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)

Infectious mononucleosis (mono)

HIV and HTLV

Infectious mononucleosis (mono)

Not everyone showing signs of the risk factors ends up developing Hodgkin’s lymphoma. When an individual shows signs of these risk factors, it is important to see a physician.

 

Prevention: There are only some known risk factors related to Hodgkin lymphoma that can be changed, so it is not possible to avoid most cases of the disease at the present time. There has been a high record in the successful treatment of this condition at all stages of detection.

HIV which is the virus that causes AIDS is recognized to increase the risk of developing the disease, so a good way to limit your risk is always avoid known risk factors that get you infected with HIV, such as unprotected sex, infected blood products, and intravenous drugs.

An additional risk factor for Hodgkin lymphoma is infection with Epstein-Barr virus (this is the cause of mononucleosis or mono), and there is no known method to prevent this infection completely.