Thumbnail image of: Lymph Nodes and Vessels: Illustration

Hodgkin Lymphoma Discharge Information

What is Hodgkin lymphoma?

Hodgkin lymphoma (also called Hodgkin disease) is a growth of abnormal white blood cells that form tumors in the lymph system. The lymph system is part of your body’s system for fighting infection. The lymph system consists of lymph nodes that store blood cells (lymphocytes) to fight infection and vessels that carry fluid, nutrients, and wastes between your body and your bloodstream. The disease can occur in one lymph node, in a group of nodes, or in an organ. It can then spread to almost any part of your body.

Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the many types of lymphoma. Other types of lymphomas are called non-Hodgkin lymphomas. The type of lymphoma is determined by how the cancer cells look under a microscope.

There are different types and stages of Hodgkin disease that are diagnosed based on where the cancer cells are found, what the cells look like, and how they grow. Knowing the type and stage of cancer you have can help your healthcare provider decide on the best treatment plan for you. Although Hodgkin disease is one of the most curable cancers, it is important to diagnose and treat it as soon as possible. The main goals of treatment are to kill the cancer cells and prevent the cancer from spreading.

Hodgkin disease is most often diagnosed in people between the ages of 15 and 35 years, or age 55 years or older. The cause of Hodgkin disease is not well known. However, there are things that increase your risk. These include:

  • Being infected with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) or the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Family history of lymphoma

How can I take care of myself when I go home?

Hodgkin lymphoma can be cured in most cases. When treatment begins in the early stages, radiation therapy can cure 80 to 90% of people. When the disease is found in a later stage, a combination of radiation and chemotherapy has about a 40% chance of cure. How long it takes to get better depends on how well you respond to treatment, your overall health, and any complications you may have.


  • Your provider will give you a list of your medicines when you leave the hospital.
    • Know your medicines. Know what they look like, how much you should take each time, how often you should take them, and why you take each one.
    • Take your medicines exactly as your provider tells you to.
    • Carry a list of your medicines in your wallet or purse. Include any nonprescription medicines and supplements on the list.
    • Talk to your provider before you use any other medicines, including nonprescription medicines.
  • Your provider may prescribe medicine or other therapy to:
    • Treat pain
    • Treat or prevent an infection
    • Treat or prevent low blood counts caused by the cancer or its treatment.
    • Treat or prevent side effects, such as nausea or constipation, from other treatments
    • Help your immune system fight cancer
  • Ask your healthcare provider if there are any foods or medicines you should avoid.
  • You may be more at risk for serious infections during and after your treatment. Try to stay away from people who may be sick. Avoid crowded places, like shopping malls, when you can. Practice good hand washing.
  • Take care of your health. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Eat a healthy diet and try to keep a healthy weight. If you smoke, try to quit. If you want to drink alcohol, ask your healthcare provider how much is safe for you to drink. Learn ways to manage stress. Exercise according to your healthcare provider’s instructions.
  • You may need other treatments for your cancer after you leave the hospital. Treatments may include:
    • Chemotherapy (anticancer drugs), which uses medicine to kill cancer cells. Different types of chemotherapy may be given in the hospital, outpatient clinic, or at home.
    • Radiation therapy, which uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation treatment may be done in the hospital or an outpatient clinic.
    • Biological therapy, which uses medicine designed to help your immune system fight the cancer or block the growth of cancer cells.


  • Follow your provider’s instructions for follow-up appointments.
  • Keep appointments for any routine testing you may need. Testing may include:
    • Blood tests to check the blood count and for certain hormones, proteins, or chemicals that may be at high levels if you have cancer
    • Computed tomography (CT) scan: A series of X-rays taken from different angles and arranged by a computer to show thin cross sections of the chest, lungs, and other areas where the cancer may have spread
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A powerful magnetic field and radio waves are used to take pictures from different angles to show thin cross sections of the chest, lungs, and other areas where the cancer may have spread
    • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: A series of detailed pictures that are taken after your healthcare provider injects a small amount of radioactive material into your blood. The scan shows areas where the radioactive material is being absorbed.
    • Bone X-rays: Pictures of your bones to check for cancer
    • Bone scan: A series of detailed pictures that are taken after your healthcare provider injects a small amount of radioactive material into your blood. The scan shows any areas of bone where the radioactive material is being absorbed.
    • Chest X-ray: Pictures of the inside of your chest to check for cancer
  • Talk with your provider about any questions or concerns you have

Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:

  • Swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss more than your healthcare provider recommends in any month
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Deep bone pain
  • Signs of infection. These include:
    • Fever higher than 100.5 degrees F (38.1 degrees C)
    • Chills or muscle aches
    • Tiredness

For more information:

Contact national and local organizations such as:

  • American Cancer Society, Inc.
    Phone: 1-800-ACS-2345 (800-227-2345)
    Web site:
  • National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service
    Phone: 1-800-4-CANCER (800-422-6237)
    Web site:
Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-12-22
Last reviewed: 2014-12-22
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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