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Is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Curable?

One of the first things on the minds of patients diagnosed with cancer may be what their prognosis could be. Thanks to expanding research and targeted cancer treatments, the prognoses for lymphoma patients are improving.

What Is Lymphoma?

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer of the cells in the immune system called lymphocytes.

There are two types of lymphoma:

  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma, also called Hodgkin’s disease
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL)

Lymphomas are the most common form of cancer in teens ages 15 to 19. Every patient’s prognosis is different, but Hodgkins disease, for the most part, can be treated and managed.

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Survival Rates

Hodgkin’s disease is considered one of the most treatable forms of cancer if found early. For NHL, the overall five and 10 year relative survival rates are 69 percent and 59 percent, respectively. For Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the survival rates are usually improved as the five year survival rate is 85 percent and a 10 year survival rate of 80 percent. There are many factors that influence prognosis and survival rate which can include:

  • Age- Being under 60 can improve your prognosis as you are more likely to fight off disease.
  • Stage of disease– Stage I or II can offer good prognosis, though later stages may be highly treatable as well.
  • No lymphoma outside of lymph nodes, or lymphoma in only one area outside of lymph nodes.
  • Performance status-Ability to function normally; ranked on a scale of zero to 100 (100 meaning you are at normal health).
  • Serum LDH (lactate dehydrogenase) is high instead of normal. The LDH enzyme is usually released when cells are damaged or destroyed.

Lymphoma Risk Factors

Most of the risk factors that contribute to lymphoma are unknown. However, some studies have found that certain factors are associated with a raised risk of the disease, including:

  • Serum LDH (lactate dehydrogenase) is high instead of normal. The LDH enzyme is usually released when cells are damaged or destroyed.
  • Age – Studies have shown that Hodgkin’s lymphoma primarily occurs in people ages 15 to 35 and people over 55. Adults over 60 usually are more at risk for Hodgkin’s lymphoma because of lower immune function.
  • Viruses – Carrying viruses such as Epstein-Barr or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has been found to increase the risk of developing lymphoma.

It is also possible that other factors, such as workplace exposure to certain substances (herbicides, insecticides, or wood dust), or obesity may increase the risk of lymphoma. However, these associations are still being studied by researchers and may or may not be risk factors.

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Symptoms

Symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s lymphomas are similar. Symptoms are not immediately obvious and may be mistaken for a severe cold or flu. Common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Coughing, trouble breathing, or chest pain
  • Soaking night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Swollen, painless lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin
  • Weakness and tiredness that doesn’t go away

Lymphoma Treatment Options

Treatment options for lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma are usually similar to other types of cancer treatment. Although the types may be similar, your specific treatment plan may vary greatly depending on what your doctor recommends. Treatments can include one or more of the following:

To learn more about the treatment options of lymphoma or to schedule an appointment, visit the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center website or call 412-647-2811.