Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) is a cancer of lymphocytes where the cancerous cells are felt to develop from germinal centers of B-cells (B-lymphocytes). In HL, the cancerous lymphocytes first show up in the lymph nodes and may spread to other parts of the body.
The overall incidence is approximately 2.7/100,000 or about 9,000 people diagnosed with HL in the United States annually. There is a bimodal incidence with one peak occurring in late teen years/early adulthood and a second peak among those >50 years of age. Risk factors associated with HD are not well understood and for most people, the cause is unknown.
The most common HD symptom is painless lymphadenopathy. Patients may have localized or widespread disease. Patients may have systemic or “B” symptoms with fevers, night sweats, pruritus or weight loss.
More than 50% of HD patients, including those with advanced disease can be cured with a wide variety of chemotherapy regimens. Although most patients with HD are cured with initial therapy, a significant proportion of patients still fail to achieve a complete remission or relapse after attaining a remission. The poor results of conventional dose salvage therapy for relapsed and refractory HD patients has led to use of high-dose therapy followed by autologous transplant. In general, the results of autologous transplant for patients with relapsed or refractory HD appear better than those reported with conventional salvage therapy. The majority of transplants for HD are autologous, although allogeneic related donor, unrelated donor and umbilical cord blood unit have been utilized.