Lymphoma refers to a family of cancers of the lymphatic system, which includes the parts of the immune system responsible for fighting disease and infection. Lymphomas are divided into two categories, Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma, also known as HL, is a cancer that begins in lymphocytes, the white blood cells responsible for immune system responses. HL begins when a lymphocyte (usually a B cell) becomes abnormal, with the presence of a particular abnormal cell called a Reed-Sternberg cell. (See photo below.)
The Reed-Sternberg cell divides to make copies of itself. The new cells divide again and again, making more and more abnormal cells. The abnormal cells don’t die when they should, and they don’t protect the body from infections or other diseases. Instead, the buildup of extra cells often forms a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor.
HL can start almost anywhere in the body because of the extensive reach of the lymphatic system. Usually, HL is first found in a lymph node above the diaphragm, the thin muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. But it may also be found in a group of lymph nodes.
Once our team determines if and what kind of lymphoma you have, we can devise a personalized treatment plan based on your particular needs and diagnosis.
In addition to your cancer care team answering your questions and serving as a resource, visit the National Cancer Institute to read more about Hodgkin’s lymphoma.