Doctors aren't sure what causes Hodgkin's lymphoma. But it begins when an infection-fighting cell called a lymphocyte develops a genetic mutation. The mutation tells the cell to multiply rapidly, causing many diseased cells that continue multiplying.
The mutation causes a large number of oversized, abnormal lymphocytes to accumulate in the lymphatic system, where they crowd out healthy cells and cause the signs and symptoms of Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Various types of Hodgkin's lymphoma exist. Your diagnosis is based on the types of cells involved in your disease and their behavior. The type of lymphoma you are diagnosed with determines your treatment options.
Classical Hodgkin's lymphoma
Classical Hodgkin's lymphoma is the more common type of this disease. People diagnosed with this disease have large, abnormal cells called Reed-Sternberg cells in their lymph nodes.
Subtypes of classical Hodgkin's lymphoma include:
- Nodular sclerosis Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Mixed cellularity Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Lymphocyte-depleted Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Lymphocyte-rich Hodgkin's lymphoma
Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin's lymphoma
This much rarer type of Hodgkin's lymphoma involves large, abnormal cells that are sometimes called popcorn cells because of their appearance. Treatment may be different from the classical type. People with this type of Hodgkin's lymphoma may have a better chance of a cure when the disease is diagnosed at an early stage.