The basics

Lymphomas are cancers that start in the lymphatic system – a network of glands and thin tubes that run through your body. If you have Hodgkin lymphoma, certain types of white blood cells in your lymphatic system – called Reed-Sternberg cells – go haywire. The cells multiply and collect around glands and other parts of the lymphatic system, causing tumours to form. And the Hodgkin bit? That’s Thomas Hodgkin – the doctor who discovered this type of cancer back in 1832.

Warning signs

The most common sign of Hodgkin lymphoma is a lump in your neck, armpits or groin that may or may not be painful. Other symptoms include night sweats, fever, weight loss, tiredness, persistent itching, coughing and breathlessness. Having these symptoms doesn’t mean you have cancer, though.

 

How's it diagnosed?

The only way to identify Hodgkin lymphoma is using a biopsy. This involves giving you a local anaesthetic, taking cells from a tumour using a needle and examining the cells under a microscope for signs of cancer.

You can find out more about biopsies in our Getting diagnosed section.

How's it treated?

Despite being a pretty aggressive type of cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the easiest to treat and most likely to be cured. The exact treatment depends on your health and on how far the cancer has spread, but it normally involves chemotherapy – sometimes combined with radiotherapy. You might also be given steroid tablets or injections as part of your chemo treatment.

Find out more about cancer treatments.