To understand what Hodgkin lymphoma is, it helps to know about the lymph system (also known as the lymphatic system). The lymph system is part of the immune system, which helps fight infections and some other diseases. The lymph system also helps control the flow of fluids in the body. The lymph system is made up mainly of cells called lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. There are 2 main types of lymphocytes:
- B lymphocytes (B cells): B cells make proteins called antibodies to help protect the body from germs (bacteria and viruses).
- T lymphocytes (T cells): There are many types of T cells. Some T cells destroy germs or abnormal cells in the body. Other T cells help boost or slow the activity of other immune system cells.
Hodgkin lymphoma usually starts in B lymphocytes. Although, Hodgkin lymphoma can start almost anywhere, most often it starts in lymph nodes in the upper part of the body. The most common sites are in the chest, neck or under arms. Hodgkin lymphoma most often spreads through the lymph vessels from lymph node to lymph node. Rarely, late in the disease, it can invade the bloodstream and spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs, and/or bones marrow.
Different types of Hodgkin lymphoma can grow and spread differently, and may be treated differently:
Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
This disease does not start in the white blood cells and may originate in the lymph nodes, spleen or bone marrow and spread to other parts of the body. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is divided into three types, based on cell types, and classified by how quickly it spreads.
- B-Cell (85% of Non-Hodgkin’s Cases)
Classifications of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma include: