Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL) & Hodgkin's Disease

Lymphomas are divided into two general categories—Hodgkin's disease (HD; also called Hodgkin's lymphoma), and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). In the United States, there has been a general decline in HD rates over the past 20 years, so that this disease now accounts for only 1 percent of all cancers.

By contrast, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma has increased by more than 70 percent during this period. It now represents 4 percent of all cancers and is the fifth most common malignancy in the United States.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), approximately 70,800 new cases of NHL and 9,190 new cases of HD were diagnosed in the United States in 2014.

The majority of NHLs (95 percent) occur in adults 40 to 70 years of age; however, some NHL subtypes are among the most common cancers in children. More men than women develop NHL, and rates are particularly high among men who live in locations of epidemic human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, such as the San Francisco/Oakland area. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is more common in Caucasians than in African Americans or Asians.

In Hodgkin's disease, about 60 percent of cases involved advanced stage disease and 40 percent involved early-stage disease. Men typically have higher HD rates than women. This difference is particularly noticeable in children and among people older than 35 years of age. HD is more common in Caucasians than in African Americans or Asians.

HD affects both adults and children, although it is most common in two age groups: young adults (aged 15–40) and older adults (age 55+). This age spread is more apparent in women, and may be related to hormonal factors. Only about 10–15 percent of HD cases occur in children who are younger than 16 years of age. The disease is uncommon in children age five and under.

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

Published: 14 Aug 1999

Last Modified: 28 Sep 2015