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Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma

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If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with classical Hodgkin lymphoma, you may be trying to learn as much as possible about the disease and its treatments. Read on to find out more.

The information on this website should be discussed with your healthcare professional and does not replace their advice.

What is classical Hodgkin lymphoma?

Classical Hodgkin lymphoma is a blood cancer that affects the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of our immune system which helps defend us from diseases.

Classical Hodgkin lymphoma usually occurs when abnormal white blood cells form a lump (tumour) in a lymph node.

Abnormal white blood cells can travel through the lymph vessels to form a tumour in another part of the lymphatic system or it can travel through the blood to other parts of the body.

Other types of cancer can spread to lymph nodes. However, these are not regarded as lymphoma. For example, lung cancer that spreads to lymph nodes is still called lung cancer.

The name Hodgkin comes from the doctor who first described this type of cancer.

Treatment with KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab)

Your doctor will plan your treatment according to your individual circumstances. These include the stage and risk category of your cancer as well as your age, symptoms and general health.

KEYTRUDA is an immunotherapy that may be used to treat classical Hodgkin lymphoma in adults or children when the cancer has returned (relapsed) or if another treatment did not work (refractory).

Talk to your doctor to see if KEYTRUDA may be right for you.

KEYTRUDA is not funded in New Zealand for the treatment of patients with classical Hodgkin lymphoma.


Expand for more information on terms and definitions related to classical Hodgkin lymphoma.

Terms you may find useful:

Blood count
A test to count the cells in your blood. These cells are your red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Bone marrow
Material inside bones that produces red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Usually the main specialist for people with Hodgkin lymphoma.

Lymph nodes or glands
Small structures that collect and destroy bacteria and viruses.

A type of white blood cell that fights infection.

A doctor who specialises in treating cancer with drug therapies – for example, chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

The expected outcome of your cancer. Your doctor is the best person to ask about your prognosis, but it is not possible for anyone to predict the exact course of cancer.

Refractory or residual disease
Cancer that has not fully responded to the first treatment.

Relapse or recurrence
The return of cancer after a period of improvement (remission).

A new or abnormal growth of tissue on or in the body. Tumours can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

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Questions to ask your doctor

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Patient Resources


Cancer Council Australia. 2019. Understanding Hodgkin lymphoma. A guide for people with cancer, their families and friends.
Available at:
Accessed on 23/09/2021


KEYTRUDA Consumer Medicine Information

NZ-KEY-00878. TAPS DA 2339KN TAPS NP20132. First Issued February 2024.