What is hodgkin’s lymphoma caused by?

Ah, good old Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? But what in blazes is it caused by? Well folks, that’s a question we’re aiming to answer today. Buckle up and get ready for quite the ride!

The Basics: What is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

Hodgkin’s lymphoma (HL) is a type of cancer that originates in your immune system cells but then goes on to ravage your entire body like an invading horde of Mongol warriors. These cells normally help protect you from disease and infection, but if they go rogue (think Mel Gibson in Braveheart), they can start becoming downright destructive and give rise to HL.

Types of HL

  • Classical HL
  • Nodular sclerosis
  • Mixed cellularity
  • Lymphocyte-rich
  • Lymphocyte-depleted
  • Nodular lymphocyte-predominant HL

And now for some great news – most people with HL end up being cured! Now that’s nothing to sneeze at; unless you have allergies or are dealing with a persistent tickly throat cough thingy.

Risk Factors

Ok, so here comes the woozy part, where we list off all those things outside our control that increase the likelihood of developing this unfortunate condition.


When parents tell their kids “you got grandma’s eyes” or “you’ve got granddads nose,” they are usually not talking about passing down cancerous genes… although it does happen occasionally (Disclaimer: Please don’t take my word as medical advice). Specific genetic incidents appear to play a role in one-third-ish cases… which means this enemy could be lurking within your family tree as patiently as Harold waiting for Congress every election day. Yikes.

Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)

That’s right, that same bugger responsible for causing mononucleosis may also have had a hand in gifting you with HL. With EBV infection comes the increased risk of multiple types of lymphoma (HL being one), and so we are putting it in our naughty list as well.


Nowadays nearly everything is bad for us – leaving the couch- ensuring plenty of less-than-stellar food options at every corner store, etc. But some lifestyle choices seem to up our chances of getting hit with HL. Notably:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Exposure to Pesticides or Certain Chemicals

So if you’re thinking “Phew! I made it this far without inheriting those mean genes,” unfortunately, it’s not all good news quite yet… so keep reading.

Unique Cells Gone Rogue

The body has unique cells called lymphocytes whose chief mission is invading your immune system like ninjas sacrificing their lives for the greater cause… such brave souls they are! When these stealth warriors become malignant and disorganized due to genetic mutations, they squirt onto everybody whenever they feel like partying instead of doing what they should be doing (Disclaimer: The author admits he knows little about technical terms).


A diagnosis typically happens when patients show signs and symptoms indicating swollen lymph nodes; bizarre fevers; inexplicably fluctuating weight aways from optimal standards; night sweats strong enough to convince coworkers someone turned on a faucet somewhere nearby).

The methods collectively referred to as imaging include:

1) Computed tomography scan (CT Scan)
2) Positron emission tomography scan (PET Scan)
3) Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

In many cases doctors will rely on biopsies which entail removing tissue samples that pathologists further analyze via special tests involving “immunophenotyping”, chromosomal analysis techniques and the like. They look under the microscope and determine whether it’s HL or a different problem (Disclaimer: such as another type of cancer, an infection or hey – maybe even some random allergic reaction).


Treatment options vary depending on specific circumstances but often include:


Chemotherapy involves intravenously pumping gnarly chemicals that kill off the speed freak cells terrorizing your body. Chemo’s side effects can be brutal, so patients don’t typically describe their experience la-dee-freaking-daa.

Radiation Therapy

High-powered beams of energy target those unruly lymphocytes wherever they may be hiding in all their dark corners…(cue evil laughter). Special machines move around to precisely administer this force – definitely NOT for when you have an itch somewhere you really can’t quite reach before bed!

Stem Cell Transplant

Once upon a time stem cell transplants seemed like futuristic whiz-bang medical concepts out of 1970s sci-fi movies (even though doctors tried using them since that era), yet now we accept stem cell transplants far more modern than they are! Some variations exist including allogeneic transfers involving donor tissue with pending issues regarding immune regulation; commonly used autologous transplants use patient owned tissues/whatever else implanted back inside them later on.

So there…in summary, HL is caused by abnormal mutations occurring within lymphocytes turning into malignant invisible death ninjas trying to ruin our lives while abusing our organs. Risk factors involve everything genetic disposition wisedom DNA related (boo!), to lifestyle choices & environment exposers’ financial horrors whatever crap we’re exposed too every day going about our business, leaving us fighting through symptoms troubling enough physicians consider looking under chemical microscopes at exactly what might be causing it all resulting in biopsies people would prefer avoiding if possible. Treatments come a- plenty from IV bags filled with Cancer Kryptonite to Dark Energy-beaming machines delivering radiation where the sun don’t shine, and even stem-cell transplants that seem like they went all futuristic since Mork from Ork first landed on earth.

And that’s pretty much everything, folks. Well done for staying awake!

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