What is the Difference Between Hodgkin's and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma?
A Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphocytes, a type of cell that forms part of the immune system.
Typically, lymphoma is present as a solid tumor of lymphoid cells.
There are two main types of lymphoma: Hodgkin's Lymphoma (also called Hodgkin's Disease) and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
Both types develop in the lymphocytes or white blood cells that are an important part of the body's immune system.
The two types have similarities, but there are definite distinctions.
Lymphocytes have two main cell types: B cells or T cells. With lymphoma, either the B cell or the T cell becomes abnormal.
The first abnormal cell quickly divides and then subsequent abnormal cells divide, encroaching upon and destroying other lymphatic cells.
While lymphomas originate in the body's lymphatic system, Hodgkin's Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma can spread to bone marrow and other organs such as the liver and spleen.
Symptoms and Signs
Aching, swollen lumps in the neck, night sweats and fever are the typical symptoms for both Hodgkin's Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
Other symptoms include breathing problems, fatigue, itching, unexplained weight loss, and swollen lumps in the armpits and/or groin.
It was not uncommon for either type of cancer to appear in adults in their 50's but, typically Hodgkin's Lymphoma appears in children and young adults.
In contrast, the risk for developing Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma increases with age and typically appears between the ages of 40 and 70.
There are several diagnostic techniques used, either alone or in combination, to make the diagnosis between Hodgkin's Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
These include: blood tests, thorough physical examinations, bone marrow biopsies and chest x-rays.
The definitive test, however, is the tissue biopsy of part or all of an affected lymph node.
Under the microscope, the presence of an abnormal B cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell, a particular kind of lymphocyte, indicates Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Diagnosis is not as easy for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
There are over 30 different types of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma which include various types of cells and cell markers.
Like all cancers, lymphoma is characterized by stages which define the extent or severity of the cancer, and treatment differs depending on the cell type and stage.
Treatment for Hodgkin's Lymphoma can include radiotherapy, chemotherapy or a combination of the two.
Stem cell or blood marrow transplantation can be recommended in more severe cases. Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma is typically treated with chemotherapy. On rare occasions, radiation alone or in combination with chemotherapy is utilized.
The type and severity of lymphoma determine the response to any particular treatment. Other treatments for lymphoma can include: radio immunotherapy or immunotherapy alone.
Surgery is rarely a treatment option.