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Hodgkin’s disease(HD) or Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, a part ofthe immune system. Lymphomas are caused by abnormal growth of cell in thelymphatic system. Abnormal cells in Hodgkin’s disease are known asReed-Sternberg cells. Hodgkin’s disease is usually first diagnosed in lymphnodes in the chest and neck. The cancer can progress either aggressively(intermediate and high-grade lymphomas) or slowly (indolent lymphomas).Aggressive form of Hodgkin’s disease has more severe symptoms compared toindolent lymphoma.

Hodgkin’s disease generally spreads downward from theinitial state. It spreads from one lymph node to another but may also affectthe bone marrow or the spleen. This disease is most common among people ages 15and 35 years and people older than 55. Each year in the United States there are7,500 new cases diagnosed. Hodgkin’s disease which accounts for less than 1% ofall cancer cases in the US. The treatment for this cancer usually involvesradiotherapy, chemotherapy, surgery and bone marrow transplantation. However,the treatment depends on number and location of tumors, as well as the stage ofthe disease.

Causes and RiskFactors for Hodgkin’s disease

Exact cause of Hodgkin’s disease is unknown but there aresome risk factors that increase the chance of developing this disease. The riskfactors include age, family history, weak immune system and certain infectionssuch as Epstein-Barr, Helicobacter pylori infection, human T-cell leukemiavirus (HTLV) and Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV) and HIV virus.

Symptoms of Hodgkin’sdisease

The most common indicator of Hodgkin’s disease is painlessswelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, groin and armpits. A person affectedby Hodgkin’s disease usually experiences fever and chills, persistent fatigue,loss of appetite and weight loss. Weakness, coughing, trouble breathing, chestpain, itchy skin and soaking night sweats are also common in Hodgkin’s disease.Other symptoms include bone pain, enlarged spleen, red patches on the skin,sensitivity to effects of alcohol and pain in the lymph nodes after consumingalcohol.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of Hodgkin’s disease can be made with the help ofphysical exam, where doctor check for enlarged lymph nodes and swollen spleen,and X-ray, CT scan and MRI scan to reveal location of tumor. Tissue sample(biopsy) of a swollen lymph node can provide definite diagnosis. The biopsy canalso tell the grade of the cancer. Staging of Hodgkin’s disease depends on thelocation and number of the lymph nodes with Hodgkin’s disease cells and thepresence of cancer cells in the bone marrow, spleen, liver or lung

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