Hodgkin’s disease or Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a type of cancer that originates from a type of white blood cells called lymphocytes. Lymphoma is described as a cancer in the lymphatic cells of the immune system. This disease is a malignancy that produces growth of lymphoid tissue, spleen, and liver, with invasion of other tissues. The more benign type of the disease is known as Hodgkin’s paragranuloma, while the more invasive bears a name Hodgkin's sarcoma. Both conditions are quite similar one to another and the only distinctive feature, which separates benign Hodgkin’s lymphoma from the invasive one, is the peculiarly benign clinical course.
Signs and symptoms of Hodgkin’s lymphoma
The most common symptoms of this disease are the enlargement of one of the lymph nodes. Typically, this doesn’t heart but, upon the examination, the lymph node may appear a bit swollen and rubbery in texture. In most cases, the nodes of the neck and shoulders will appear different. Patients may also complain about itchy skin and night sweats. In many cases they will experience weight loss and their spleen will also become enlarged. Enlargement of the liver happens in small number of cases, and often together with enlargement of the spleen. Bask pain, red patches of the skin, easy bleeding and low grade fever may also be present. One of the rare symptoms is pain upon alcohol consumption.
Causes and risk factors for Hodgkin’s lymphoma
The exact cause of Hodgkin’s lymphoma is yet unknown. Scientists believe that numerous factors work together to trigger this disease. Statistic information available from already diagnosed patients reveals that adult men of all ages are slightly more frequently affected than women. Their risk is even higher if there is a family history of the disease. Infection with certain diseases, such as mononucleosis, may also contribute. People with weakened immune system, or those who have been using human growth hormone, or have been exposed to the toxins, are at the highest risk.
Treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma
If the disease is diagnosed at the early stage, patients can be effectively treated with radiation therapy or chemotherapy. In later stages, combination chemotherapy is the only available treatment method. However, radiation therapy is given only to the patients who have cancer. Treatment of Hodgkin’s disease is very successful and it has been gradually improving in last couple of decades. The survival rates are very high. These rates have been improved recently and now, even for the patients with worse outlook, the 5-year survival rate is at least 85%.