If you have lymphoma, it means your body is making too many lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. Your lymphocytes also live longer than they should. This overload compromises your immune system and stops other cells in your blood from doing their job too. There are two types of lymphocytes, B cells and T cells; Hodgkin Lymphoma (sometimes called Hodgkin’s disease) develops from B cells.
Lymphomas are grouped into stages based on how far they have spread in the body. This enables doctors to give the most effective treatment because lymphomas of different stages will respond differently. In general, staging is applied to all types of lymphoma – however, there are a few exceptions. A different system is used for skin lymphomas.
Hodgkin Lymphoma can be identified by the presence of abnormal cells called “Reed-Sternberg” cells. These cells have a distinct large shape when looked at under a microscope.
Lymphoma Action has more information about Hodgkin lymphoma on their website.
Name: Hodgkin Lymphoma
Cell type: B cells, a type of white blood cell
Frequency: 2,100 / year in the UK
UK transplants: 181 in 2016
Risk: Most common in people aged between 15-25, and over 50
Treatment: Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a stem cell transplant
Other info: Defined by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells
Doctors will normally only offer you a 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 allograft transplant – when stem cells are donated by someone else.
Your medical team may consider offering you an allograft transplant straight away if:
‘I saw it as a project. The doctor told me what was going to happen, and it wasn’t that I wasn’t prepared for the worst, but I decided to do my best. If you have a focused mind, the pain and other things you endure are easier to manage.’
Rayhan, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma in March 2014 at the age of 26. Read his story here
Some of our transplant recipients have also been kind enough to share their experience of treatment for Hodgkins Lymphoma. You can read their stories here.
Information published: 17/01/18
Next review due: 17/01/21