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Hodgkin lymphoma, like all cancers, is a disease of the body’s cells.
Cells in different parts of the body work in different ways, but they all repair and reproduce themselves in the same way. Normally, cells divide in an orderly and controlled way. But if for some reason the process gets out of control, the cells continue to divide. This may lead to too many immature white blood cells in the blood or bone marrow. A lump or tumour may then develop in one or more groups of lymph nodes.
Lymphoma cells generally start to grow in lymph nodes. As there are lymph nodes and lymph vessels throughout the body, Hodgkin lymphoma can start in any part of the body. The most common place for it to start is in the lymph nodes in the neck. The next most common places are the lymph nodes:
Hodgkin lymphoma may affect a group of lymph nodes in just one area of the body. However, it’s common for lymphoma to be found in lymph nodes in more than one area of the body, as lymphoma cells can sometimes spread through the lymphatic system|.
Lymphoma cells can also go into the bloodstream, which may carry them to other organs. When the cells reach a new area, they may go on dividing and form a new tumour.
Hodgkin lymphoma can also occur in body organs. In some people it can affect the spleen, liver, lungs or bone marrow.
The treatment| of Hodgkin lymphoma is usually very successful, even when it is in several different areas of the body. Most people can now be cured or the lymphoma can be controlled for many years.
Content last reviewed: 1 December 2011
Next planned review: 2013
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