Hodgkin vs Non Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Hematology Review

SimpleNursing Editorial Team Apr 25, 2018
Pretty young African American nurse checking hodgkin vs non hodgkin lymphoma on middle aged female African American patient

Jump to Sections

  1. Causes of Lymphoma
  2. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stages
  3. The Difference Between Hodgkin and Non Hodgkin Lymphoma
  4. Lymphoma Nursing Interventions

It can get overwhelming when figuring out the differences between lymphomas, leukemias, and myelomas. Among the confusion is knowing Hodgkin vs Non Hodgkin lymphoma.

Yes, it’s confusing, but the significant difference is their origin or where cancer started. 

All types of leukemia (whether acute myelogenous, chronic myelogenous, acute lymphocytic, or chronic lymphocytic) have the same clinical manifestation: increased production of white blood cells that crowd out red blood cells. 

The hemoglobin and hematocrit will drop, including the platelets. So technically, the only difference is where cancer originated.

For leukemia, the conditions start in the myeloid and lymphoid stem cells. As for lymphomas, they begin in the B-cells and T-cells.

Causes of Lymphoma

Lymphomas are idiopathic, meaning the illness’s cause is unknown. We know the clinical manifestations but not the leading reasons why lymphomas happen. Currently, medical experts are still figuring out how lymphomas begin, but until such time, lymphomas are considered idiopathic.

Scientists, however, think that there are a few predisposing factors of why lymphomas occur, namely:

  • Viruses – Certain viruses can infect lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) by triggering changes in the infected cells. 
  • Carcinogens – Breathing in cancer-causing pollutants like smoke and metallic substances.
  • Genetics – When family members are immunocompromised.

So unlike other diseases like liver cirrhosis, wherein you know that the patient might have been an alcoholic, lymphomas are more complicated.

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stages

Cells are made initially in the blood stem, either the lymphoid or myeloid cell. Then, it becomes a lymphoblast cell that produces the T-cells and B-cells. This is how cells progress and where lymphomas come to life.

Your patients will start developing prominent lymph nodes, pain in the spleen, and swollen tonsils. The signs and symptoms of lymphomas will either be painless or non-symptomatic. Lymphomas usually happen with patients aged 20 to 30 years old.

There are four main stages of lymph node enlargement:

Stage 1 – The patient will manifest just one enlarged lymph node.

Stage 2 – Enlarged lymph node above the diaphragm.

Stage 3 – Three sites have enlarged lymph nodes.

Stage 4 – Four sites have enlarged, swollen lymph nodes.

Remember, lymph nodes are the body’s agents for sucking up anything from the blood to be pushed out of the system. Lymph nodes are activated and become swollen when people get sick; it is the body’s defense mechanism against illnesses.

The Difference Between Hodgkin and Non Hodgkin Lymphoma

The main thing to note when differentiating Hodgkin’s from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells. Between the two, Hodgkin’s lymphoma has the Reed-Sternberg cells.

A biopsy is performed to determine if the lymphoma is with or without Reed-Sternberg cells. Once these cells show up, it’s an automatic Hodgkin’s lymphoma. On the other hand, there will be no immediate diagnosis if the results show negative for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has about twelve variations and is considered more severe than Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Lymphoma Nursing Interventions

Hodgkin’s lymphomas are more treatable than non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Hodgkin’s lymphoma can be treated with the following:

  • Radiation therapy – burns the cancer cells and the other surrounding healthy, non-cancer cells; alopecia is a common side effect.
  • Chemotherapy – taking pills to decrease the immune system to kill off white blood cells.

Chemotherapy is like hitting the restart button by killing off the cancer cells.

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Serious conditions like lymphoma require well-researched and educated treatment from health care professionals.

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