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Hodgkin’s and Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Hodgkin's Lymphoma vs Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non Hodgkin’s lymphoma sound very similar. When looking at Hodgkin’s lymphoma vs non Hodgkin’s lymphoma, it may be hard to spot the difference. Although they are both a form of cancer that involves the white blood cells in the body, they are two different diseases.

What is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

Your body produces white blood cells called lymphocytes that help protect against infection and disease, but there are different types of lymphocytes. Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non Hodgkin’s lymphoma affect different types of lymphocytes.

Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma occurs more often than Hodgkin’s lymphoma. According to the Lymphoma Research Foundation, there are roughly 80,000 people diagnosed with non Hodgkin’s lymphoma each year in the U.S. There are also about 8,000 new cases of Hodgkin’s lymphoma every year.

Differences Between Hodgkin’s Lymphoma vs Non Hodgkin’s

Although both types of lymphoma affect the lymphocytes, they affect different cells. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is characterized by having Reed-Sternberg cells present. This type of cell is a mature B cell. The cells are found in the lymph fluid. Hodgkin’s often develops in the lymph nodes, and one of the first symptoms is an enlarged lymph node.

Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma develops from B cells or T cells. Although it may first arise in the lymph nodes, it can also first show up in the organs. In addition to affecting different types of lymphocytes, the age at diagnosis also tends to be different. Although it can occur at any age, the average age at diagnosis for non Hodgkin’s lymphoma is 60. Hodgkin’s lymphoma usually occurs in younger people. It most commonly develops in people between the ages of 15 and 24.

There are also subtypes of non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. While Hodgkin’s lymphoma is considered a homogeneous disease without subtypes.

What Causes Hodgkin’s and Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

The cause of non Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma is not known. Like many forms of cancer, research continues to determine why some people develop the disease. Some research indicates that non Hodgkin’s lymphoma is more likely to develop in people that have a weakened immune system.

Although the exact cause of Hodgkin’s lymphoma is also not clear, it is thought that an infection-fighting lymphocyte may develop a mutation. The mutation sends a signal to the cells to multiply abnormally fast. The result is large numbers of mutated cells continuing to multiply.

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms for both Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non Hodgkin’s lymphoma are somewhat similar. Both diseases often cause painless swelling of the lymph nodes.

Typically, Hodgkin’s lymphoma arises from lymph nodes in the upper part of the body, such as the chest or neck. Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma can also arise in a lymph node, but it may also first develop in an organ in the body.

Typical symptoms of non Hodgkin’s lymphoma include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unintentional weight loss

Symptoms of Hodgkin’s lymphoma may include the following:

  • Swelling of lymph nodes
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Severe itching
  • Increased sensitivity to alcohol

It is important to understand that some of the symptoms of both forms of lymphoma are vague. Not everyone who has some of the above symptoms has lymphoma.

The Progression of the Disease

The progression of both types of lymphoma may vary. Although there can be variations, they usually follow a different progression. Hodgkin’s lymphoma usually progresses in a predictable and orderly manner. It moves from one set of lymph nodes to the next. Because it does progress orderly, it is often diagnosed before it has progressed to an advanced stage.

Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma does not follow a predictable progression. It may move from one set of lymph nodes to the next, or it may move from a lymph node to an organ, or it may jump from one set of nodes in the chest to one in the groin. People with non Hodgkin’s lymphoma are often diagnosed at a more advanced stage than people with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Treatment Options

Usually, treatment for both types of lymphomas is similar. The treatment plan recommended depends on the stage of the disease. There are many treatment options available, including those listed below.


Chemotherapy is often one of the main treatments for either form of lymphoma. There are several different protocols that may be used depending on the stage of the disease. Chemo drugs work by destroying the cancerous cells and preventing them from continuing to multiply.


Immunotherapy involves administering drugs that enhance or strengthen the patient’s immune system to fight the cancer.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy involves targeting high energy beams at the cancer cells.

Stem Cell Transplant

A stem cell transplant involves infusing healthy stem cells in the patient’s body to replace the cancerous cells that are in the bone marrow. There are different types of stem cell transplants, including using stem cells from a donor.

What is the Prognosis?

Several factors affect the prognosis for someone with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non Hodgkin’s lymphoma, including age and stage of the disease. In general, lymphoma is considered one of the most treatable cancer.

According to the National Foundation for Cancer Research, the five-year survival rate for people with Hodgkin’s lymphoma is 90%. Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma tends to be diagnosed at a little more advanced stage. The five-year survival rate is a little lower. According to the American Cancer Society, the overall five-year survival rate for people with non Hodgkin’s lymphoma is about 72%.

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