Hodgkin Disease Facts


VanStee, Amy

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Hodgkin's disease is a form of lymphoma—cancer of the lymph nodes—small glands that help your body help fight infection. Hodgkin disease causes the cells in the lymphatic system to abnormally reproduce, eventually making the body less able to fight infection.

Hodgkin disease cells can also spread to other organs.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for Hodgkin disease include the following:

  • Infection with infectious mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr virus)

  • Age: Hodgkin disease occurs most often in people between ages 15 and 40 and in people older than age 55.

  • Gender: The disease is more common in men than in women.

  • Family history: Siblings of those with Hodgkin disease have a higher-than-average chance of developing this disease.

Diagnostic Procedures

In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, diagnostic procedures for Hodgkin disease may include the following:

  • Blood tests

  • X-ray of the chest: A diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.

  • Computed tomography (also called a CT or CAT scan): A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images, both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than standard X-rays.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.

  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: A type of nuclear medicine procedure. A tiny amount of a radioactive substance, called a radionuclide, is used to help examine the tissue under study. PET studies evaluate the metabolism of a particular organ or tissue, so that information about the functionality and structure of the organ or tissue is evaluated, as well as its biochemical properties. PET may detect biochemical changes in an organ or tissue that can identify the onset of a disease process before anatomical changes related to the disease can be seen with other imaging processes such as CT or MRI.

  • Lymph node biopsy: A procedure to remove tissue or cells from the body for examination under a microscope.


Specific treatment for Hodgkin disease may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and high-dose chemotherapy with bone marrow or peripheral stem cell transplantation.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Apr 3, 2017

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Medical References

  1. Hodgkin Disease. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/hodgkindisease/index
  2. How is Hodgkin disease diagnosed? American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/hodgkindisease/detailedguide/hodgkin-disease-diagnosis
  3. Can Hodgkin disease be found early? American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/hodgkindisease/detailedguide/hodgkin-disease-detection
  4. How is Hodgkin disease treated? American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/hodgkindisease/detailedguide/hodgkin-disease-treating-general-info

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