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Hodgkin lymphoma

Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of blood cancer where your body makes too many lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). Your lymphocytes also live longer than they should.

What is Hodgkin lymphoma?

Too many lymphocytes means your immune system can’t work properly. It also stops your other blood cells from doing their job.

There are two types of lymphocytes: B cells and T cells. Hodgkin lymphoma (sometimes called Hodgkin’s disease) develops from B cells.

Hodgkin lymphoma can be identified by abnormal cells called ‘Reed-Sternberg cells’. These cells have a distinct large shape when looked at under a microscope.

You can find out more about Hodgkin lymphoma, including symptoms, diagnosis and treatments, on the Lymphoma Action and Blood Cancer UK websites.

Facts about Hodgkin lymphoma

  • About 2,100 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma each year in the UK.
  • Hodgkin lymphoma is most common in people aged 20-40 and over 75.
  • There were 223 stem cell transplants in the UK to treat Hodgkin lymphoma in 2022.

Hodgkin lymphoma and stem cell transplants

You will normally only be offered a stem cell transplant if you’ve had other treatment first and the lymphoma has come back.

You’re more likely to have an autologous transplant - when doctors use your own stem cells. This provides the best chance of keeping your lymphoma in remission for longer, and causes fewer complications because a stem cell donor isn’t needed. 

You may then have a second transplant if you relapse. This will be an allogeneic transplant  – when stem cells are donated by someone else.

Your medical team may consider offering you an allograft transplant straight away if:

  • you’ve already had treatment but it didn’t work
  • your lymphoma has returned quickly
  • you have a type of lymphoma that doctors feel isn’t likely to respond well to normal chemotherapy.
Jo with her husband, Pete, and daughter, Phoebe

I was 22 when I was diagnosed with blood cancer. It all started with a lump in my neck. I wasn’t too concerned, but when that lump was taken out, the doctors discovered that it was Hodgkin lymphoma.

Jo, who had a stem cell transplant to treat Hodgkin lymphoma in 2012. You can read her story on our blog.

Last updated: 24/01/23

Next review due: 24/01/24