What is Hodgkin lymphoma?

This section is for teenagers and young adults. It is about a type of cancer called Hodgkin lymphoma.

We also have information about Hodgkin lymphoma in people of all ages.

Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the most common cancers in young people. Treatment has a very good success rate. Most teenagers and young adults with Hodgkin lymphoma are cured.

Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. This system helps protect the body against infection and disease. Cancer is a disease of the body’s cells. Normally, cells in the body divide and grow in a controlled way. But sometimes cells keep dividing and grow out of control. In lymphoma, white blood cells called lymphocytes become abnormal and grow out of control. These lymphocytes can build up in one part of the body and make a lump (tumour).

Hodgkin lymphoma is one of lots of different types of lymphoma. Different types develop and are treated in different ways.

Symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma

The most common symptom of Hodgkin lymphoma is a lump, where a lymph node is swollen. This is usually in the neck, armpit or groin. But other areas of lymph nodes can be affected and cause symptoms too. The lump is not usually painful, but some people may find that it aches.

Other symptoms may include:

  • heavy drenching sweats, especially at night
  • unexplained high temperatures
  • unexplained weight loss
  • tiredness
  • a cough or breathlessness
  • an itch all over the body that doesn’t go away.

Most of these symptoms can also be caused by other illnesses. For example, swollen lymph nodes, high temperatures and sweats may be caused by an infection. But if you have any of these symptoms or are worried about Hodgkin lymphoma, go to see your GP. If they think you could have Hodgkin lymphoma, they can arrange tests or arrange for you to see a specialist doctor.

Causes of Hodgkin lymphoma

We don't know what causes Hodgkin lymphoma, but research is going on to try to find out. Remember that nothing you’ve done has caused it.

Hodgkin lymphoma is not infectious and cannot be passed from person to person.

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