Differences Between Hodgkin & Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
With two similar-sounding names, Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma can easily be confused. Lymphoma is a form of cancer that affects the lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that plays an important role in the immune system. The primary difference between these two categories of lymphatic cancer is the type of lymphocyte that is affected. Hodgkin lymphoma is marked by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells, which a physician can identify using a microscope. In non-Hodgkin lymphoma, these cells are not present.
In addition to the presence or lack of Reed-Sternberg cells, other differences between Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma include that:
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is more common than Hodgkin lymphoma.
- The majority of non-Hodgkin patients are over the age of 55 when first diagnosed, whereas the median age for diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma is 39.
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma may arise in lymph nodes anywhere in the body, whereas Hodgkin lymphoma typically begins in the upper body, such as the neck, chest or armpits.
- Hodgkin lymphoma is often diagnosed at an early stage and is therefore considered one of the most treatable cancers. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is typically not diagnosed until it has reached a more advanced stage.
Despite the many differences between these two types of lymphatic cancer, both have similar symptoms, such as enlarged lymph nodes, fatigue, weight loss and fever. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to consult with a physician.
What treatment options are available?
Treatment for Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin lymphoma will depend on the type of lymphatic cancer you have, its stage, your overall health and many other factors. At Moffitt Cancer Center, the multispecialty experts that make up our Malignant Hematology Program collaborate as a tumor board to review patient cases, ensuring each patient receives an individualized treatment plan that addresses his or her unique needs.