Hodgkin vs. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: How Are They Different?

3 min read


Hodgkin vs. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: How Are They Different?

There are two broad categories of lymphoma: Hodgkin lymphoma, which was named after its founder, Dr. Thomas Hodgkin, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Both lymphomas are a type of cancer originating in the lymphatic system. This system is the part of our bodies that protects us from diseases, helps us maintain fluids, absorb nutrients, and remove waste throughout the entire body. Here are some primary differences between Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas: 

Hodgkin Lymphoma: 

  • There are only a few types of Hodgkin lymphoma. 
  • More likely to affect the lymph nodes in the neck, chest, or underarms

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: 

  • There are numerous types and subtypes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. 
  • The majority are diagnosed as B-cell lymphomas or diffuse large B-cell lymphoma 
  • Most likely to affect the groin, abdomen, neck, chest, or underarms 

What Is the More Common Type of Lymphoma and Who Is Affected? 

Of the two types, non-Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the most common types of cancer. Risk factors for developing lymphoma include age, gender, race, family history, certain virus' or infections, and a weakened immune system. 

Diagnosing the Different Types of Lymphoma

To get the correct treatment for lymphoma, you first need to get an accurate diagnosis. If you feel you have common lymphoma symptoms, speak with a physician who can conduct testing and proper follow-ups. Some common symptoms of both non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin lymphoma include: 

  • Enlargement of lymph nodes
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Fever without a cause
  • Bed-drenching night sweats (not related to menopause)
  • Weight changes without an explanation
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Cough or chest pain
  • Low or no appetite

Different types of lymphoma require different treatment plans. In some cases, multiple types of treatment methods will be utilized. Common ways that your physician will test for Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin lymphoma can include: 

  • A physical exam that looks at any potential swelling or inflammation 
  • Removal of a lymph node for a biopsy that evaluates the cells
  • Blood testing 
  • Bone marrow biopsy
  • Imaging such as a CT or PET scan 

Common Treatment Options for Hodgkin Lymphoma

Hodgkin lymphoma treatment options can include:

  • Chemotherapy 
  • Radiation therapy
  • Immunotherapy including medications like Keytruda and Opdivo and other drugs
  • Targeted therapy

In some situations, like when the risks of treatment outweigh the benefits, watchful waiting is the best option. Talk with your doctor about which treatment option is best for you and your type of cancer.

Common Treatment Options for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can utilize many of the same treatment courses but has even more available options. For example:

  • Targeted therapy drugs like Rituxan and Sevalin
  • Immunotherapy drugs  
  • Antibiotic therapy
  • Surgery
  • Stem cell transplants

Treatment options will vary based on what stage of lymphoma, how aggressive or advanced it is, your age, and your overall health.

Clinical Trials for Lymphomas

Clinical trials are available for some patients, especially if a treatment path doesn’t seem to work as well as expected, or the cancer has returned. Compass Oncology actively participates in clinical research to help develop new and better types of treatments for patients everywhere. Your oncologist may talk with you about an opportunity to participate in a trial if it’s right for you. Ask questions and talk through this possible treatment option with your loved ones. 

Treatment Plans for Hodgkin Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in Portland-Vancouver

Having a treatment plan that you feel comfortable with is critical to your journey. Being diagnosed with lymphoma can feel intimidating, but with the right care team, you can feel supported and educated throughout treatment. Compass Oncology is here for you if you are seeking a second opinion or looking for a thorough and compassionate oncology team in the Portland-Vancouver area. Our locations offer personalized treatment plans and many patient resources, like telemedicine appointments, educational events, and support groups. At Compass Oncology, we aim to provide comfort and treatment as collaboratively as possible.

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