Hodgkin's Disease

Hodgkin disease is a type of lymphoma, a cancer in the lymphatic system. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2015 about 9,050 new cases of Hodgkin disease will be diagnosed. About 10 percent to 15 percent of cases are found in children and teenagers.

Hodgkin disease causes the cells in the lymphatic system to abnormally reproduce, eventually making the body less able to fight infection. Hodgkin disease cells can also spread to other organs.

What are the symptoms of Hodgkin disease?

The following are the most common symptoms of Hodgkin disease. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • painless swelling of lymph nodes in neck, underarm, and groin
  • fever
  • night sweats
  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • itching of the skin

The symptoms of Hodgkin disease may resemble other blood disorders or medical problems, such as influenza or other infections. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

What are the risk factors for Hodgkin disease?

Suggested risk factors for Hodgkin disease include the following:

  • infection with infectious mononucleosis Infection with the Epstein-Barr virus that causes mononucleosis (also called "mono") has been linked to Hodgkin's disease.
  • age Hodgkin disease occurs most often in people between ages 15 and 40 and in people over the age of 55.
  • gender Hodgkin disease is more common in men than in women.
  • family history Brothers and sisters of those with Hodgkin disease have a higher-than-average chance of developing this disease.
  • acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)

How is Hodgkin disease diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for Hodgkin disease may include the following:

  • additional blood tests
  • x-rays of the chest, bones, liver, and spleen - a diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
  • computed tomography (Also called a CT or CAT scan.) - a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than standard x-rays.
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body
  • positron emission tomography (PET) scan - a nuclear scan that gives information about the flow of blood through the coronary arteries to the heart muscle.
  • lymph node biopsy - a procedure performed to remove tissue or cells from the body for examination under a microscope.

Treatment for Hodgkin disease

Specific treatment for Hodgkin disease will be determined by your physician based on:

  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the disease
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the disease
  • your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • radiation therapy
  • chemotherapy
  • high-dose chemotherapy with bone marrow transplant  or peripheral stem cell transplantation

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