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Cellular Classification of Adult Hodgkin Lymphoma

    Pathologists currently use the World Health Organization (WHO) modification of the Revised European-American Lymphoma (REAL) classification for the histologic classification for adult Hodgkin lymphoma (HL).[1,2]

    WHO/REAL classification

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    • Classical HL.
      • Nodular sclerosis HL.
      • Mixed-cellularity HL.
      • Lymphocyte depletion HL.
      • Lymphocyte-rich classical HL.
    • Nodular lymphocyte–predominant HL.

    Nodular Lymphocyte–Predominant HL

    Nodular lymphocyte–predominant HL is a clinicopathologic entity of B-cell origin that is distinct from classic HL.[3,4,5] The typical immunophenotype for lymphocyte-predominant disease is CD15-, CD20+, CD30-, CD45+, while the profile for classic HL is CD15+, CD20-, CD30+, CD45-. Patients with lymphocyte-predominant disease have earlier-stage disease, longer survival, and fewer treatment failures than those with classic HL.[6] Despite a usually favorable prognosis, there is a tendency for histologic transformation to diffuse large B-cell lymphoma in around 10% of patients by 10 years.[7] Lymphocyte-predominant HL is usually diagnosed in asymptomatic young males with cervical or inguinal lymph nodes but usually without mediastinal involvement. Based on retrospective analyses spanning several decades and because of the rarity of this histology, limited-field radiation therapy is the most common treatment approach for patients with early-stage disease.[8,9,10]

    The REAL Classification of Lymphoid Neoplasms proposed separating nodular lymphocyte–predominant HL (CD15-, CD20+, CD30-) from lymphocyte-rich classical HL (CD15+, CD20-, CD30+), on the basis of these immunophenotypic differences.[2,11] The largest retrospective report of 426 cases showed no significant difference in clinical response or outcome to standard therapies for these two subgroups.[12][Level of evidence: 3iiiA] Of interest, with a median follow-up of 7 to 8 years, more patients died of treatment-related toxic effects (acute and long-term) than from Hodgkin recurrence. Limitation of radiation dose and fields and avoidance of leukemogenic chemotherapeutic agents, along with watchful waiting policies, should be investigated for these subgroups.[13,14] For patients with advanced-stage nodular lymphocyte–predominant HL, chemotherapy regimens designed for non-HLs may be preferred, based on a retrospective review.[15][Level of evidence: 3iiiDii]


    1. Lukes RJ, Craver LF, Hall TC, et al.: Report of the Nomenclature Committee. Cancer Res 26 (1): 1311, 1966.
    2. Harris NL: Hodgkin's lymphomas: classification, diagnosis, and grading. Semin Hematol 36 (3): 220-32, 1999.
    3. von Wasielewski R, Mengel M, Fischer R, et al.: Classical Hodgkin's disease. Clinical impact of the immunophenotype. Am J Pathol 151 (4): 1123-30, 1997.
    4. Bodis S, Kraus MD, Pinkus G, et al.: Clinical presentation and outcome in lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin's disease. J Clin Oncol 15 (9): 3060-6, 1997.
    5. Orlandi E, Lazzarino M, Brusamolino E, et al.: Nodular lymphocyte predominance Hodgkin's disease: long-term observation reveals a continuous pattern of recurrence. Leuk Lymphoma 26 (3-4): 359-68, 1997.
    6. Nogová L, Reineke T, Brillant C, et al.: Lymphocyte-predominant and classical Hodgkin's lymphoma: a comprehensive analysis from the German Hodgkin Study Group. J Clin Oncol 26 (3): 434-9, 2008.
    7. Al-Mansour M, Connors JM, Gascoyne RD, et al.: Transformation to aggressive lymphoma in nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin's lymphoma. J Clin Oncol 28 (5): 793-9, 2010.
    8. Chen RC, Chin MS, Ng AK, et al.: Early-stage, lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin's lymphoma: patient outcomes from a large, single-institution series with long follow-up. J Clin Oncol 28 (1): 136-41, 2010.
    9. Nogová L, Reineke T, Eich HT, et al.: Extended field radiotherapy, combined modality treatment or involved field radiotherapy for patients with stage IA lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin's lymphoma: a retrospective analysis from the German Hodgkin Study Group (GHSG). Ann Oncol 16 (10): 1683-7, 2005.
    10. Wilder RB, Schlembach PJ, Jones D, et al.: European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer and Groupe d'Etude des Lymphomes de l'Adulte very favorable and favorable, lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin disease. Cancer 94 (6): 1731-8, 2002.
    11. Shimabukuro-Vornhagen A, Haverkamp H, Engert A, et al.: Lymphocyte-rich classical Hodgkin's lymphoma: clinical presentation and treatment outcome in 100 patients treated within German Hodgkin's Study Group trials. J Clin Oncol 23 (24): 5739-45, 2005.
    12. Diehl V, Sextro M, Franklin J, et al.: Clinical presentation, course, and prognostic factors in lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin's disease and lymphocyte-rich classical Hodgkin's disease: report from the European Task Force on Lymphoma Project on Lymphocyte-Predominant Hodgkin's Disease. J Clin Oncol 17 (3): 776-83, 1999.
    13. Aster JC: Lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin's disease: how little therapy is enough? J Clin Oncol 17 (3): 744-6, 1999.
    14. Pellegrino B, Terrier-Lacombe MJ, Oberlin O, et al.: Lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin's lymphoma in children: therapeutic abstention after initial lymph node resection--a Study of the French Society of Pediatric Oncology. J Clin Oncol 21 (15): 2948-52, 2003.
    15. Canellos GP, Mauch P: What is the appropriate systemic chemotherapy for lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin's lymphoma? J Clin Oncol 28 (1): e8, 2010.

      WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

      Last Updated: February 25, 2014
      This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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