Hodgkin's lymphoma, also known as Hodgkin's disease, is a type of cancer in the lymphatic system. A rare disease, Hodgkin's lymphoma causes some cells in the lymphatic system to abnormally reproduce, eventually causing tumors to grow and making the body less able to fight infection.
Hodgkin's lymphoma is different from other lymphomas. In most lymphomas, cancer cells make up most of a tumor. In Hodgkin's lymphoma, the cancer cells (usually special cells called Reed-Sternberg cells) only make up a small part of the cells in a cancerous lymph node. The rest of the cells are normal immune cells.
Hodgkin's lymphoma can usually be cured if found and treated early.
Hodgkin's Lymphoma Symptoms
These and other symptoms may be caused by Hodgkin's lymphoma. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems do not go away:
• Painless, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin
• Fever for no known reason
• Drenching night sweats
• Weight loss for no known reason
• Itchy skin
• Feeling very tired
• Coughing, shortness of breath or chest discomfort may be signs of Hodgkin's lymphoma in the chest.
Additional symptoms used in staging
Hodgkin's lymphoma stages are also noted by the presence or absence of certain symptoms of the disease:
• The letter "B" is added (i.e. stage IIB) if the person has any B symptoms (fever, night sweats, weight loss).
• If a person does not have these B symptoms, the letter "A" is added after the Roman numeral.
• If the Hodgkin's disease has spread from a lymph node to a nearby organ, the letter "E" is added.
• If it involves the spleen, the letter "S" may be added.
• The letter "X" may be added if a person has bulky disease. This means a tumor in the chest is at least one-third as wide as the chest, or a tumor in another area is at least 10 centimeters (about 4 inches) across. Bulky disease may require more intensive treatment.
For example, stage IIIB is disease that is symptomatic, involves lymph node regions or structures on both sides of the body and is further classified depending on the organs and areas involved.
Risk Factors for Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get Hodgkin's lymphoma; not having risk factors doesn't mean that you will not get Hodgkin's lymphoma. Some risk factors are out of your control, such as age or gender. Known risk factors for Hodgkin's lymphoma include the following:
• Age: Occurs most often in people between ages 15 and 40, and in people over the age of 55.
• Family history: Off-spring, brothers and sisters of those with Hodgkin's lymphoma have a higher-than-
average chance of developing this disease.
• Sex: Slightly more common in men than in women
• Infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV): Infection with the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mononucleosis (also called "mono") has been linked to Hodgkin's disease.
• Infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV): Infection with this virus, which causes AIDS, has also been linked to an increase risk of Hodgkin's disease.
• Weakened immune system: Inherited condition or the use of immunosuppressant drugs to prevent organ transplant rejection
Types of Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Hodgkin's lymphoma is actually a group of similar diseases that doctors often classify into two main types:
• Classic Hodgkin's lymphoma
• Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin's lymphoma
Classic Hodgkin's lymphoma
Most Hodgkin's lymphomas are the classical type that is broken down into four subtypes:
• Nodular sclerosing Hodgkin's lymphoma (most common)
• Mixed cellularity Hodgkin's lymphoma
• Lymphocyte depletion Hodgkin's lymphoma
• Lymphocyte-rich classical Hodgkin's lymphoma
Nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin's lymphoma
Nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin's lymphoma is a rare type. It is marked by the presence of a type of cell called a popcorn cell, which is different from the typical Reed-Sternberg cell found in classical Hodgkin's lymphoma. This type of Hodgkin's lymphoma may change into diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.
Hodgkin's Lymphoma Diagnosis
Tests that examine the lymph nodes are used to detect (find) and diagnose Hodgkin's lymphoma. The following tests and procedures may be used:
• Blood chemistry studies
Hodgkin's Lymphoma Treatment
We offer a full spectrum of the most up to date and advanced therapies for all stages of Hodgkin's lymphoma, including treatment for relapsed disease. Our treatment depends on the stage of disease and consists of chemotherapy alone, a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy (combined modality therapy), or raditaion therapy alone. Our focus is on using regimens that achieve a high cure rate, preserve fertility, and minimize late effects.
Types of treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma include:
• Bone marrow transplantation