​Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer in the lymphatic system of your body. It causes cells to grow abnormally and form tumours in different parts of the body. As a result, if unchecked, it depreciates your body’s ability to fight disease. As yet, there is no clear consensus on what causes this cancer. However, the following factors do increase the risk of contracting Hodgkin’s lymphoma:

  • Age between fifteen years to thirty years, as well as ages above fifty-five years old

  • Family history of lymphoma

  • A history of Epstein-Barr infection

  • A weakened immune system

Some common symptoms for Hodgkin’s lymphoma are:

  • Swelling of lymph nodes of the arm pits, face or neck

  • Fatigue

  • Weight loss

  • Itchy skin

  • Excess sweating at night

  • Persistent coughing along with shortness of breath

  • Fever

If you find any of the signs and symptoms associated with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, consult your family doctor. Based on the diagnosis, he/she may refer you to a specialist. Alternatively, you can consult the qualified staff of the <Oncology service line> at The Aga Khan University Hospital.

Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

To confirm the presence of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the following tests may be carried out:

  • Physical exam –  this is carried out to check for swelling in the areas associated with Hodgkin’s lymphoma such as the neck, underarms, groin and liver

  • Imaging tests – X-ray, CT (Computerized Tomography) scan, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan or PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans may be used to detect the presence of Hodgkin’s lymphoma

  • Blood tests – a sample of your blood will be inspected and examined in a laboratory to see if there are any indicators of cancer.

  • Surgery – an affected lymph node is extracted to check for Hodgkin’s lymphoma

  • Bone marrow biopsy: sample of your bone marrow is collected to check for Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma is dependent on the stage which has been assigned to it after the testing. There are four stages of Hodgkin’s lymphoma based on how much it has spread:

  • Stage I: Limited to one region of lymph nodes or organ

  • Stage II: Spread has been beyond one region but is still limited to either above or below the diaphragm

  • Stage III: Has spread to regions both above and below the diaphragm

  • Stage IV: Has to spread to multiple regions in multiple organs or sections of the body including but not limited to the bones, lungs or liver

Based on these factors, as well as your overall health, the internationally accredited staff of the Oncology service line at The Aga Khan University Hospital may recommend any one of these following procedures for treatment:

  • Chemotherapy – this is a form of drug therapy that is used to kill cells with lymphoma. The chemotherapy drug can reach almost all areas of your body by traveling through your bloodstream.

  • Radiation therapy – this treatment uses high-energy rays or particles, such as X-rays, to target and eliminate cancer cells. This treatment may be used alone for classic cases of Hodgkin’s lymphoma; however it is often used following chemotherapy treatment.  

  • Stem cell transplant – this involves replacing your diseased bone marrow with healthy stem cells from a donor in order to help you grow new bone marrow.

  • Monoclonal antibodies – antibodies describe proteins that are made by your immune system which help to fight off infections. Monoclonal antibodies are man-made versions of antibodies which may be designed to attack a particular target.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.