What Are The Complications Of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is characterized by the presence of a particular type of cell known as Reed-Sternberg cell. The condition presents various symptoms such as enlarged lymph nodes, night sweats, unexplained weight loss and fatigue. Even after the Hodgkin’s lymphoma is treated, various complications arise which increases the risk of other diseases.

What Are The Complications Of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

What Are The Complications Of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

Highly sophisticated treatment options and early diagnosis through the most-modern diagnostic techniques led the oncologist to provide complete cure, from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, to their patients. The cure rate is presently at all-time high and is set to rise in future due to various researches continuing on the treatment options. Although the disease has been completely cured, the survivor experiences significant changes in their body due to the disease and its implications, thus the patients are at risk for developing various complications, both cancerous and non-cancerous. The complications may also be due to the therapy, either chemotherapy or radiotherapy, given during the course of treatment. Following are the complications:

Compromised Immune System: Lymphoma is defined as the abnormal tumor growth in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system includes lymph nodes and other lymphatic organs. Also, the cancer metastasizes to other extra-lymphatic organs. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to prevent the body from foreign substances through specialized cells, the lymphocytes. During lymphoma, the lymphocytes formed are abnormal, thus the immune system of the person is compromised.

Endocrine Dysfunction: The survivors of the Hodgkin’s lymphoma experiences infertility due to the side effects of the chemotherapeutic drugs. The general symptoms related to infertility are azoospermia and dysspermia in males and amenorrhea in females. However, many patients were able to recover the damage caused due to drugs. There is also a risk of thyroid dysfunction due to radiotherapy.

Problem In Getting Vaccinated: Vaccination comprises of the weakened form of the virus which works fine in the normal immune system as antibodies are developed to protect body from further infection. But the immune system is already compromised in the patients of Hodgkin’s lymphoma which are recently treated, and the administration of vaccine may cause side effects in these patients.

Secondary Malignancy: The complication of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma also includes the risk of secondary malignancy. Due to Hodgkin’s lymphoma, risk of breast cancer, lung cancer and GIT cancer increases. The risk of lung cancer is increased due to chemotherapy and smoking. The GIT cancer risk involves the organs such as stomach, pancreas and liver.

Pulmonary Disease: The survivors of Hodgkin’s lymphoma may experience chronic fatigue and tiredness which is contributed by the chemotherapy and radiation. The risk of radiation pneumonitis is also increased. The risk of pulmonary toxicity increases with increased dose and increased amount of radiation. Reduction in the lung function is also seen in some patients.

Cardiovascular Disease: Various cardiovascular complications occur as an aftermath of the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The main contributor of this complication is the radiation. The cardiac effects with increased risk are pericardial disease, coronary disease, cardiomyopathy, and valvular defects; the risk of the cardiac events increased by up to 3-5 times. One study concludes that the combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy further increases the complications.

Non-coronary Atherosclerotic Disease: Non-coronary disease is also caused due to the treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the primary cause being the neck radiation. The risk further increases in conditions such as diabetes, smoking and hypertension.

Infection: As the immune system is compromised and the body is not in the situation for fighting against the invaders, the body is vulnerable to infections. Thus, proper care should be taken of the patients undergoing treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma or the survivors of lymphoma.


Commendable research has been done on the drugs used for the treatment of cancer and many cancers such as lymphoma are curable even at advanced stages. But, due to the treatment side effects or the physiological changes in the body due to the lymphoma, the survivor is subjected to increased risk towards some diseases. These diseases include infection, endocrine dysfunction, secondary malignancy and cardiovascular diseases.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 30, 2021

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