Hodgkin’s lymphoma, once known as Hodgkin’s disease, is a cancer of the immune system which strikes the lymphatic system. It is the rarer of the two lymphatic cancers, the more common type is called non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma used to be a fatal disease; however, these days it’s quite treatable and many patients experience a full recovery. The precise cause of Hodgkin’s lymphoma has yet to be determined.
Are you at risk for Hodgkin’s lymphoma?
Those most at risk for this disease are between ages 15 and 40 or over 55. Men are more at risk than women. If you have a sibling who has had the disease, you may be more likely to suffer from it, although since exact causes of it have not been determined, this could be due to living in the same environment. If you have an immune system disorder, or if your immune system has been compromised by previous disease, you are more likely to contract Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is more commonly found in higher socioeconomic groups, most common in North America and Northern Europe, and least common in Asia.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Although symptoms can point to many diseases, they include generalized itching, swelling of the lymph nodes, fatigue, night sweats, chills and fever, unexplained loss of weight, shortness of breath, and chest pain or coughing.
Diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma can be difficult because the above symptoms are common to many diseases and conditions. Besides a physical exam to palpate any swelling, there will be blood tests done. For definitive diagnosis, there will be images taken by x-ray, and possibly CT, MRI, and PET scans, to look for growths. Tissue and marrow are taken for biopsy.
As the disease advances, the Hodgkin’s lymphoma patient experiences increased risk for other disease such as cardiovascular disease or stroke, thyroid disorders, and secondary cancers.
Treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Chosen treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma is determined by several factors. These include the stage of the disease, the patient’s general health, their age and prevailing symptoms. A woman’s pregnancy would be taken into consideration.
Common treatments for Hodgkin’s lymphoma are radiation in the early stages, or chemotherapy when more widespread. When Hodgkin’s lymphoma has become widespread or returned following other treatment, stem cell or bone marrow transplant may be considered.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma can not be halted or cured through any form of alternative medicine to date. Symptoms can be eased through massage, aromatherapy and other relaxation techniques such as biofeedback. Nausea is sometimes decreased through use of acupuncture.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma prognosis
Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients should attempt to live their lives as closely to normal as possible. Doctors patients advise to stay as active as possible, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine.
The outcome for Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients has become much better in recent years. If the disease has progressed, patients can expect a 60 to 70 percent chance of survival beyond five years. This rate may have become higher in the new decade.
However, if caught early, with the patient diagnosed with Stage I or Stage II Hodgkin’s lymphoma, there is currently a 95% cure rate. Thus, if you have noticed the signs or experienced symptoms of Hodgkin’s lymphoma beyond two weeks, see your doctor promptly.
Signet/Mosby Medical Encyclopedia
National Institute of Health