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Hodgkin Lymphoma

Also called: Hodgkin disease, Hodgkin’s

What is Hodgkin lymphoma?

Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer that starts in the lymph system (part of the immune system) and causes affected lymph nodes to get larger. This cancer may spread to the spleen, liver, bone marrow or lungs.

Children are more likely to develop Hodgkin lymphoma if they:

  • have been infected with the Epstein-Barr virus or had mononucleosis (“mono,” caused by this virus);
  • have been infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus);
  • have a weakened immune system, either from an inherited disease or from medication to suppress the immune system after an organ or bone marrow transplant; or
  • have a close relative, especially a brother or sister, who also has or had Hodgkin lymphoma.

How common is Hodgkin lymphoma?

  • In the United States, 6,000 to 7,000 new cases of Hodgkin lymphoma are diagnosed each year.
  • Children younger than age 5 rarely develop Hodgkin lymphoma. The likelihood of developing it increases as children grow older, peaking in young adulthood and later in older adults.
  • Hodgkin lymphoma is more common in boys than in girls.

What are the symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma?

If your child has Hodgkin lymphoma, the following symptoms may be present:

  • Swollen (but not sore) lymph nodes in the neck, chest, armpit or groin
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Itchy skin

How is Hodgkin lymphoma treated?

  • Chemotherapy (“chemo”)—uses powerful medicines to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing (dividing) and making more cancer cells:
    • Chemo may be injected into the bloodstream, so that it can travel throughout the body.
    • Some chemo may be given by mouth.
    • Combination therapy uses more than one type of chemo at a time.
  • Chemotherapy alone or combined chemotherapy and low-dose radiation therapy are the standard treatments for young patients and those who have more advanced disease. Depending on the type of Hodgkin lymphoma and the extent of its spread, surgery may be done first to remove as much of the tumor as possible.

  • Radiation therapy—uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing.
  • Radiation therapy works well for Hodgkin lymphoma that has not spread. However, radiation therapy may disrupt the growth of bones and soft tissues in young children. It may also increase the risk of heart disease and second cancers as patients grow older. Radiation is being used less for treating children with Hodgkin lymphoma.

  • Targeted therapy—uses medicines or other treatments that target and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells. The most recent St. Jude clinical trial includes this kind of approach.

What are the survival rates for Hodgkin lymphoma?

In general, five-year survival rates for Hodgkin lymphoma are very good:

  • Between 90 and 95 percent for those with early diagnoses.
  • About 90 percent for children whose disease has spread.

Why choose St. Jude for your child’s Hodgkin lymphoma treatment?

  • St. Jude is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children.
  • St. Jude has created more clinical trials for cancer than any other children’s hospital in the United States.
  • The nurse-to-patient ratio at St. Jude is unmatched—averaging 1:3 in hematology and oncology, and 1:1 in the Intensive Care Unit.
  • Patients have access to a multidisciplinary team sub-specialized in Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Newer risk-adapted therapies are being studied to see if it is possible to reduce the amount of treatment and still maintain cure rates. Reducing treatment should reduce the long-term side effects of heart and lung disease and second cancers. Three treatment protocols are currently available at St. Jude for patients with Hodgkin lymphoma: HOD99, HOD05 and HOD08.
  • St. Jude is headquarters to the Pediatric Hodgkin Lymphoma Consortium, a multi-center effort to develop novel treatment strategies for children with Hodgkin lymphoma. The consortium is led by St. Jude and includes Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital; Massachusetts General Hospital; and Maine Medical Center.
  • Long-term side effects in survivors of Hodgkin lymphoma are being investigated in the St. Jude LIFE studies.
  • Laboratory-based scientists are working with doctors to better understand the role that viruses like the Epstein-Barr virus play in how Hodgkin lymphoma develops. This information will be helpful in developing new approaches to treat Hodgkin lymphoma.

Associated Clinical Trials

APNEA: Sleep Apnea in Hodgkin Lymphoma Survivors Treated with Radiation to the Chest

Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Survivors of Hodgkin Lymphoma Treated with Thoracic Radiation

Diseases Treated:

Hodgkin lymphoma


Hodgkin lymphoma survivor

  • Patient eligible for the St. Jude LIFE study
  • Treated with thoracic radiation for Hodgkin lymphoma
  • At least 18 years old
  • At least 5 years from original diagnosis
  • If participating remotely, must have Wi-Fi access

Comparison group

  • Non-patient volunteer (Cannot be sibling, parent or child of the survivor participant)
  • At least 18 years old
  • Lives in the U.S.
  • If participating remotely, must have Wi-Fi access
View Trial

cHOD17: Risk-Adapted Therapy for Children and Young Adults with Hodgkin Lymphoma

Pediatric Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma Consortium Study

Diseases Treated:



  • Previously untreated CD30+ classical Hodgkin lymphoma
  • 21 years or younger at time of diagnosis (low-risk and intermediate-risk patients)
  • 25 years or younger (high-risk patients)
View Trial

CN160: Ruxolitinib Therapy in Children after Bone Marrow Transplant

A Phase II Pediatric Study of a Graft-vs.-host disease (GVHD) prophylaxis regimen with no calcineurin inhibitors after day +60 post first allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant for hematological malignancies

Diseases Treated:


  • Ages 12–21 years
  • Lymphoid or myeloid-based cancer that requires a bone marrow transplant


View Trial

G4K: Genomes for Kids

Next Generation Sequencing of Normal Tissue Prospectively in Pediatric Oncology Patients

Diseases Treated:



This is a non-therapeutic clinical trial that is open to St. Jude patients.

  • Solid tumor or liquid tumor (cancerous or non-cancerous)
View Trial

HAP2HCT: Partially Matched Family Donor Bone Marrow Transplant in Children and Young Adults with High Risk Cancer

TCRαβ-depleted Progenitor Cell Graft with Additional Memory T-Cell DLI, plus Selected Use of Blinatumomab, in Naïve T-Cell depleted Haploidentical Donor Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation for Hematologic Malignancies

Diseases Treated:


For transplant recipient:

  • 21 years or younger
  • Does not have a suitable sibling donor or volunteer unrelated donor
  • Has a suitable single haplotype matched family member donor
  • Diagnosed with high risk hematologic malignancy
  • No prior allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant
View Trial

HAPNK1: Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) for Children with Leukemia/Lymphoma

Haploidentical Donor Hematopoietic Progenitor Cell and Natural Killer Cell Transplantation with a TLI-Based Conditioning Regimen in Patients with Hematologic Malignancies

Diseases Treated:

Leukemia and lymphoma


  • 21 years and younger
  • Does not have a suitable HLA-matched sibling donor or volunteer HLA-matched unrelated donor or is not a candidate for conventional matched donor transplant due to refractory disease
  • Has a suitable single haplotype-matched family member donor
  • High-risk hematologic malignancy, including certain diagnoses of:
    • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)
    • Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
    • Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)
    • Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)
    • Hodgkin lymphoma
    • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
View Trial

MEKPEM: A Phase I/II trial of MK-3475 (pembrolizumab) in children’s solid tumors and lymphomas

A Phase I/II Study of Pembrolizumab (MK-3475) in Children with Advanced Melanoma or a PD-L1 Positive Advanced Relapsed or Refractory Solid Tumor or Lymphoma (Merck study KEYNOTE-051, IND# 110,080, dated 10-15/2014). EudraCT NUMBER: 2014-002950-38

Diseases Treated:

Advanced melanoma or PD-L1 positive advanced relapsed or refractory solid tumor or lymphoma or high-grade glioma


  • Between 6 months and 18 years old with diagnosis of MSI-H solid tumor OR
  • Between 12 years and 18 years old with diagnosis of melanoma OR
  • Between 3 and 18 years old with relapsed or refractory classical Hodgkin lymphoma OR
  • Between 12 and 18 years old with a diagnosis of Stage IIB, IIC, III, or IV melanoma, who had prior surgery to remove the tumor, but no other treatment (including radiation), no metastatic disease, and who have completely recovered. 
  • Negative pregnancy test 72 hours prior to medication administration in participants of child-bearing potential
  • Appropriate liver and kidney functions
View Trial

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