Hodgkin lymphoma (HL)

What is HL?

Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) is a type of neoplasms of the lymph nodes and the lymphatic system, originated from a specific type of white blood cells called lymphocytes (Figure 1). These lymphoid malignancies travel to other organs such as liver, lung and bone marrow, affecting their normal function [4]. HLs containing cells called Reed-Sternberg cells are referred to as classical Hodgkin lymphoma (CHL), and those that present lymphocyte-predominant cells are known as nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL) [4].

Every year, HL affects around 9,000 new people in the United States [5]. Most patients are diagnosed between 15 and 30 years, followed by another peak in adults aged 55 years or older [3, 4]. In western countries, 95% of diagnosed patients will have CHL [3].

Figure 1: Schematic of normal blood cells and HL development

How is HL treated?

Although the treatment for HL depends of the stage of the disease, the main treatment strategies include radiotherapy, chemotherapy and steroid therapy [4]. Treatment advances in the past few decades provided a significant improvement in the management of patients with HL [4]. While over 80% of patients diagnosed with this malignancy achieve complete remission after initial treatment, around 20-30% of these patients will eventually relapse [4, 6]. Treatment for relapsed and refractory HL involves high dose therapy and, in some cases, stem cell transplant [4]. Treatment morbidity and long-term toxicity has also become an increasing concern in this patient population [7]. Therefore, development of new therapies is highly needed for relapsed and refractory HL to improve patient’s quality of life and minimize long-term toxicities.


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