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Hodgkin Lymphoma


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Lymphomas are blood cancers that begin in the body’s lymphatic, or lymph, system. The lymph system is responsible for fighting off infection and disease. Lymph tissue and lymph nodes are found in every part of our bodies. Lymphoma cells can start growing practically anywhere in our bodies.

Hodgkin lymphoma is extremely rare, with only 7,500 cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year. This cancer begins in white blood cells called lymphocytes. These cells are part of the body's immune system. Hodgkin lymphoma is also related to a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. This usually begins in B lymphocytes, also called B cells. The B cells' job is to make proteins called antibodies. Antibodies protect the body from bacteria and viruses. Hodgkin lymphoma has two types: classical and nodular lymphocyte predominant.


Procedures for diagnosing Hodgkin lymphoma include a complete medical history, a physical exam and tests including:

Blood and Lab Tests

  • Complete blood count (CBC): Determines the number and percentage of red and white blood cells in the blood. Platelet count is also measured, as is hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in the blood.
  • Blood chemistry studies: Measures the amounts of substances released into the blood by organs and tissues.
  • Sedimentation rate: Measures the rate at which red blood cells in a blood sample sink to the base of a test tube. This shows how much inflammation is in the body. Above average rates may be a sign of lymphoma or another condition.
  • Lymph node biopsy: A surgeon removes all or part of a lymph node. A pathologist (a cellular expert) views the tissue under a microscope. We look for cancer cells, including Reed-Sternberg cells. These cells are possible signs of Hodgkin lymphoma.

CT (CAT) Scan
This procedure makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles. A colored dye is used to highlight abnormalities, like swollen lymph nodes.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
A PET scan uses radioactive-tagged glucose (sugar) that’s injected into the blood. Cancerous cells use glucose for energy more than normal cells, so the cancer cells appear highlighted on a scan. Many small tumors can be found using this machine.

Bone Marrow Biopsy
This type of biopsy takes a small sample of bone marrow from the hipbone or breastbone to look for microscopic signs of cancer. These additional tests might be offered to you if cancer is suspected:

  • Immunophenotyping: Helps diagnose the specific type of lymphoma by comparing the cancer cells to normal cells of the immune system.
  • Cytogenetic analysis: Looks for changes in the chromosomes found in blood or bone marrow samples.
  • Multigene tests (genomic profiling): Identifies groups of changes, or mutations, in your blood sample and creates a tumor profile. That profile can be used to determine what type of treatment would be the most effective and how long you should have treatments like chemotherapy.

After a lymphoma diagnosis, tests are done to find out the status of the disease. Staging is the phrase for defining how far cancer has spread within the lymph system.


Because lymphoma is a blood disorder, radiation, chemotherapy, and bone marrow/stem cell transplants are the main therapies. Your doctor also might recommend a clinical trial.

Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy destroys cancer cells using X-rays or other radioactive particles. It is often used along with chemotherapy to destroy more cancer cells.

Chemotherapy is the most common Hodgkin lymphoma treatment. It can be administered alone, or with radiation therapy. Most people have several medicines through an IV or as oral pills.

Our Comprehensive Treatment Unit (CTU) at Sylvester's main location in Miami offers intravenous (infusion) chemotherapy. It is a 12,000-square-foot unit that includes 33 recliners and 11 private rooms. You may also have your infusion treatments at the Kendall, Plantation, Hollywood, Coral Springs, Coral Gables, and Deerfield Beach locations.

Monoclonal Antibodies
These medicines are synthetic forms of immune system proteins. They target a specific part of a cancer cell. They may be used alone or with chemotherapy to treat certain types of Hodgkin lymphoma.

Stem Cell Transplant
Stem cells can come from a donor (allogeneic transplant) or your own body (autologous transplant). This process occurs before a patient undergoes high-dose chemotherapy or radiation therapy to kill off cancer cells. The stem cells are prepared and processed. A few days after chemotherapy or radiation, the new stem cells are transfused back into your body. These healthy blood-producing stem cells replace those lost during chemotherapy or radiation treatment. A transplant also helps restore your body's natural immunity to fight infection and disease.

Why Choose Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center?

Sylvester is an NCI-designated cancer center. The National Cancer Institute has recognized Sylvester for its outstanding work conducting research in its laboratories, treating patients in its clinics and hospitals, and reaching out to medically underserved communities with innovative prevention strategies.

OnControl® bone marrow sampling device. Developed by one of our oncologists, the powered hand-held device provides for consistent bone marrow samples for diagnosis and treatment monitoring. This device obtains representative bone marrow samples in less than five minutes with less pain for an accurate diagnosis the first time.

Many patients in the Adult Stem Cell Transplant Program come from other area hospitals. Sylvester blood disorder patients have the most experienced stem cell transplant options available if needed, fully integrated with your cancer treatment.

More cancer clinical trials than any other South Florida hospital. If appropriate for your cancer and stage, our clinical trials provide you with the very newest ways to treat and potentially cure your cancer.

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