NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Hodgkin Lymphoma, Version 1.2015
How does Hodgkin lymphoma
Cancer is a disease of cells. Lymphomas are cancers
that start in lymphocytes within the lymphatic system.
Most often these cancers first form in lymph nodes.
There are two main types of lymphomas. Hodgkin
lymphoma is defined by the presence of Reed-
Sternberg or related cells. Reed-Sternberg cells are
large, abnormal lymphocytes that have an “owl-eye”
look. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma includes all the other
types of lymphoma. Hodgkin lymphoma is the focus
of this book.
There are classical and rare types of Hodgkin
lymphoma. The classical types consist of Reed-
Sternberg cells and Hodgkin cells. Hodgkin cells
are larger than normal lymphocytes but smaller than
Reed-Sternberg cells. Classical types include nodular
sclerosis, mixed cellularity, lymphocyte-depleted, and
Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma
is the rare type of this cancer. Lymphocyte-
predominant cells are a variant of Reed-Sternberg
cells. They have a unique popcorn shape. Thus, they
are called “popcorn cells.”
Lymphocytes become cancer cells due to changes
within cells. Inside of cells are coded instructions for
building new cells and controlling how cells behave.
These instructions are called genes. Genes are a part
of DNA (
cid), which is grouped
together into bundles called chromosomes.
Changes in genes cause normal cells to
become cancer cells. Researchers are still trying to
learn what causes genes to change and cause cancer.
Hodgkin lymphoma basics
How does Hodgkin lymphoma start?
Figure 1.2 Genetic material in cells
Most human cells contain the “blueprint of life”—the plan by which our bodies are made
and work. The plan is found inside of chromosomes, which are long strands of DNA that are
tightly wrapped around proteins. Genes are small pieces of DNA that contain instructions for
building new cells and controlling how cells behave. Humans have about 24,000 genes.
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