Hodgkin's and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Differences and Similarities
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
- What are Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL)?
- How are Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) different?
- What are the statistics on Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL)?
- What are the risk factors for Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL)?
- What are the signs and symptoms of Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL)?
- What are the treatments for Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL)?
- What are the prognoses for Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL)?
What are Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL)?
Both Hodgkin's disease (sometimes referred to as Hodgkin's lymphoma) and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are cancers that originate in a type of white blood cell known as a lymphocyte, an important component of the body's immune system.
How are Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) different?
Both of these malignancies may cause similar symptoms, but the conditions themselves are different. The distinction between Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is made upon examination of the cancer cells (from a biopsy or aspiration of the tumor tissue). The type of abnormal cells identified in the sample determines whether a lymphoma is classified as Hodgkin's disease or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
What are the statistics on Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL)?
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is much more common than Hodgkin's disease. In the United States, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is the sixth most common cancer among males and females. Furthermore, the incidence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma has been steadily increasing over the last decades. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is actually a heterogeneous group of over 30 types of cancers with differences in the microscopic appearance and biological characterization of the malignant lymphocytes. The different types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma also have differences in their biologic behavior (such as the tendency to grow aggressively) that affect a patient's overall outlook (prognosis). The specific type of NHL also affects treatment planning.
Hodgkin's disease is much less common than non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and accounts for only about 1% of all cancers in the U.S. The incidence of this cancer has actually been declining in recent years, in contrast to the increases in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The diagnosis of Hodgkin's disease is confirmed by visualizing tissue samples using a microscope. When a biopsy from the cancer contains a certain type of cell termed a Reed-Sternberg cell, the lymphoma is classified as Hodgkin's disease.
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