Overview of Hodgkin's Disease

Hodgkin's disease is a type of lymphoma. Lymphomas are cancers of the lymphatic system—the body's blood-filtering tissues that help to fight infection and disease. Like other cancers, lymphomas occur when cells divide too often and too quickly. When this occurs, the cancer cells may overcrowd, invade, and destroy lymphoid tissues and metastasize (spread) to other organs.

There are two general types of lymphoma: Hodgkin's disease (named after Dr. Thomas Hodgkin, who first recognized it in 1832) and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The lymphatic tissue in Hodgkin's disease contains specific cells (called Reed-Sternberg cells) that are not found in any other types of cancer. These cells distinguish Hodgkin's disease (HD) from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL).

Both Hodgkin's disease (HD) and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) begin in lymphatic tissues and can invade other organs. However, NHL is much less predictable than Hodgkin's disease and is more likely to spread to areas beyond the lymph nodes.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 15 Aug 1999

Last Modified: 23 May 2011