The incidence or number of cases of Hodgkin's lymphoma (about 7880 cases, 4330 men and 3550 women in the United States this year) is significant although less than the number of cases of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (over 53,000 in the US this year). More on Hodgkin's incidence.
Hodgkin's has a long and rich history. The disease was named after Thomas Hodgkin (1798-1866), a English scholar and Quaker physician working at Guy's Hospital in England. Lymphatic disease was first described in 1666 by Malpighi although it was in Hodgkin's 1832 paper On Some Morbid Appearances of the Absorbent Glands and Spleen that cases of Hodgkin's lymphoma were well documented. Hodgkin's name was attached to the disease in 1865 in a paper by Wilks.
What now differentiates Hodgkin's lymphoma is the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells (and variations on this cell) in the cancerous area, a cell specific to Hodgkin's Disease. There is definitive evidence that the the cancerous cells are of B-cell lymphocyte (white blood cell) origin. The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) also appears to be a factor, at least in some cases - appearing in about 40-50% of Hodgkin's cases. Hodgkin's may be more prevalent in people who have contracted infectious mononucleosis. Also there are links between Hodgkin's and the measles virus. It has recently been found that Interleukin-13, a natural cytokine in the body, may be overproduced by Hodgkin's cancerous cells. What causes Hodgkin's lymphoma is still being researched.
Hodgkin's can occur in children and adults. It is more common in two age groups - early adulthood (ages 15-40, usually around 25-30) and late adulthood (after 55). This lymphoma is rare in children under 5. About...