The information in this section is for members of the public. If you are a UK healthcare professional, please click here. If you are a patient, please click here.
The information in this section is for members of the public. If you are a UK healthcare professional, please click here. If you are a patient, please click here.

What is classical Hodgkin Lymphoma?1

Most Hodgkin lymphoma occurs when an infection-fighting cell called a B cell develops a mutation in its DNA. The mutation tells the cells to divide rapidly and to continue living when a healthy cell would die. The mutation causes a large number of oversized, abnormal B cells to accumulate in the lymphatic system, where they crowd out healthy cells and cause the signs and symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma.

Various types of Hodgkin lymphoma exist. The type is based on the types of cells involved in the disease and their behaviour. The type determines the treatment options.

Common symptoms2

The first symptom of Hodgkin lymphoma is usually a swelling in the neck, armpit or groin. The swellings are usually painless, but some people may find that they ache.

Other symptoms may include any of the following:

  • drenching and/or frequent sweats, especially at night
  • unexplained high temperatures
  • weight loss
  • tiredness
  • a cough or breathlessness
  • a persistent itch all over the body.

What causes classical Hodgkin Lymphoma?1

Factors that increase the risk of Hodgkin lymphoma include:

Treatment options3

There are currently several different methods for treating relapsed* or refractory** cHL. The treatments may be chosen to help with removing a tumour, or controlling symptoms, or a mixture of both. A treatment plan is chosen based on a number of factors:

  • Where the cancer is on the body
  • General health
  • The stage of the cancer
  • Results of blood tests and scans

The list of relapsed or refractory cHL treatments below is not exhaustive and is not in any order.

Radiotherapy - Uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells. It is used to help shrink the tumour and help control symptoms.

Chemotherapy - Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy is used for relapsed or refractory cHL to help shrink the tumour and relieve symptoms.

Immunotherapies - Immunotherapies are a group of drugs that work with the body’s immune system, helping it to identify and destroy cancer cells.

Targeted therapies - Targeted therapies work against cancer cells and can help stop them from growing and spreading. Targeted therapies only work in certain cancer patients.

Stem Cell Therapy - Stem cell or bone marrow transplants may be given after very high doses of chemotherapy. The chemotherapy has a good chance of killing the cancer cells but also kills the stem cells in the bone marrow. Before high dose chemotherapy, the team collects the stem cells or bone marrow. Or they collect a donor's stem cells or bone marrow. After the treatment the patient has the cells into a vein through a drip. The cells find their way back to the patient's bone marrow so that they can make the blood cells they need again.

*Relapsed is a return of cancer after treatment.4

**Refractory is a cancer that is resistant to treatment.4

Further information

There is more information available about cHL on the following websites:

Cancer Research UK

Macmillan Cancer

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