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Hodgkin's Disease

 

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Hodgkin's Disease is a malignant disease affecting the lymphatic and immune system. Hodgkins lymphoma arises in the lymph nodes or in lymphoid tissue of organs such as the digestive system, lung or skin. While the cause of this disease is unknown, a viral infection is suspected. Again, Hodgkins may have a genetic origin.

Hodgkin Disease is a neoplasm of lymphoid tissue that is defined histopathologically by the presence of the malignant Reed Sternberg cells with an appropriate cellular background. The Hodgkin's lymphoma , formerly known as Hodgkin's disease , is a type of lymphoma first described by Thomas Hodgkin in 1832 . In Hodgkin's disease, cells in the lymphatic system grow abnormally and may spread beyond the lymphatic system. The lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped organs found underneath the skin in the neck, underarm, and groin. Hodgkin's disease most commonly affects people between the ages of 15 and 40 and people older than age 55. The cause of Hodgkin's disease is unknown. There is strong evidence that, in some people, Epstein-Barr virus infection causes B lymphocytes to become cancerous and transform into Reed-Sternberg cells. Hodgkin's lymphoma is not contagious and the patient does not pose a risk to others in any way. Advances in diagnosis, staging and treatment of Hodgkin's disease have helped to make this once uniformly fatal disease highly treatable with the potential for full recovery. Some doctors (like one I had in London) even go so far as to say a diagnosis of Hodgkin's is preferable to being diagnosed with another form of cancer although thinking like this may belittle the seriousness of any cancer diagnosis.

Hodgkin's Lymphoma or Hodgkin's Disease is a malignant (cancerous) growth of cells in the lymph system . Many people feel understandably shocked and upset when they are told they have Hodgkin's disease. This information is intended to help you to understand the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. What now differentiates Hodgkin's lymphoma is the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells (and variations on this cell) in the cancerous area, a cell specific to Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Because lymphatic tissue is present in many parts of the body, Hodgkin's disease can start almost anywhere, but most often starts in lymph nodes in the upper part of the body. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the other type, is far more common. In the United States in 2004, there were about 7,880 new cases of Hodgkin's disease, compared with 54,320 new cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Under a microscope they look different from cells of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas and other cancers. Most scientists now believe that Reed-Sternberg cells are a type of malignant B lymphocyte . Normal B lymphocytes are the cells that make antibodies that help fight infections. For younger children, non-Hodgkins lymphoma is more common than Hodgkin's disease, but the reverse is true for adolescents.

Causes of Hodgkin's Disease

The common Causes of Hodgkin's Disease :

  • The disease can spread to nearby lymph nodes and later may spread to the lungs, liver, or bone marrow.
  • Hodgkin's lymphoma is most common among people 15 to 35 and 50 to 70 years old.
  • Patients with HIV infection have a higher incidence of HD compared to the population without HIV infection.
  • In as many as 50% of HD cases, the tumor cells are EBV-positive; EBV positivity is higher with MCHD (60-70%) versus NS HD (15-30%). Almost 100% of HIV-associated HD cases are EBV-positive.
  • The cause of Hodgkin's disease is unknown, although it is believed to be associated with certain viruses commonly noted in the population.
  • Infectious agents, especially the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), may be involved in the pathogenesis of HD.

Symptoms of Hodgkin's Disease

Some are common Symptoms of Hodgkin's Disease :

  • A painless swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin
  • Unexplained recurrent fevers
  • Night sweats
  • Generalized itching
  • Fever and chills
  • Fatigue
  • Itchy skin
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Red patches on the skin
  • Unexplained weight loss

Treatment of Hodgkin's Disease

  • your child's age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent/stage of the disease
  • your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • surgery
  • High-dose subtotal nodal irradiation is still an acceptable alternative for highly selected patients who cannot tolerate chemotherapy.
  • Hodgkin's disease is often treated by a team of specialists that may include a medical oncologist , oncology nurse , and/or radiation oncologist .
  • For patients with clinical stage IA disease with neck involvement and NLPHD histology, radiotherapy alone is adequate therapy.
  • If the lymph nodes are deep inside, e.g. in the chest or abdomen, then imaging such as CT scanning can show the response to Hodgkin's Lymphoma treatment.