What Is Hodgkin Lymphoma?

Of the 81,180 new cases of lymphoma that are diagnosed each year, about 8,500 involve Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), which affects mostly younger patients. Fortunately, treatment advances have led to a steady decline in the number of lymphoma-related deaths. With the right therapy, HL is curable in about 85% of patients.

Hodgkin lymphoma can begin in any part of the body, but usually it occurs in the upper body, in lymph nodes under the arms or in the neck or chest. There are two main types: classic Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) and nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL).

Classic Hodgkin Lymphoma (cHL)

Hodgkin lymphoma is diagnosed in approximately 9,060 people in the United States each year, and more than 90% of those cases are classified as Classic Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL). A particular type of abnormal cell, the Reed-Sternberg cell, is present only in cHL. Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma do not have these distinctive cells.

There are four main subtypes of cHL:

  • Nodular sclerosing Hodgkin lymphoma (NSCHL). The most common type of Hodgkin disease, NSCHL usually begins in lymph nodes in the chest or neck. It occurs mostly in teenagers and young adults.
  • Mixed cellularity Hodgkin lymphoma (MCCHL) usually begins in the upper body. It affects mostly people who are HIV-positive, but it can occur in children and older people.
  • Lymphocyte-rich Hodgkin lymphoma usually begins in the upper body, but it tends to be present in only a few lymph nodes.
  • Lymphocyte-depletion Hodgkin lymphoma usually begins in the abdomen or in the bone marrow, liver or spleen. It affects mostly the elderly and people who are HIV-positive. It tends to be diagnosed in the late stages.

Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL)

Five percent of Hodgkin lymphoma cases fall into the category of nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL). It usually begins in lymph nodes under the arm or in the neck.

It’s identified by the presence of large lymphocytic and histiocytic (L&H) cells, which are sometimes called “popcorn cells” because of their shape. It grows more slowly than classic Hodgkin lymphoma.

More men than women are diagnosed with NLPHL.

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