About the disease
Hodgkin`s lymphoma is cancer of immune system, when lymphatic cells start to grow abnormally and body cannot fight infections effectively. It can develop in abdomen, chest, arms, neck, groin or any other parts of the body, as lymphoid tissue is present everywhere. It is believed that Hodgkin`s lymphoma is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus which can result in DNA changes. Because of these DNA changes chromosomes stop functioning properly, thus affecting lymphocytes. If not treated, it can spread from one lymph node to another, affecting several organs simultaneously.
There are two types of this cancer: Hodgkin`s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin`s lymphoma. Hodgkin`s lymphoma is much less common than non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In order to predict course of disease progression and estimate its prognosis, it is highly important to differentiate these two types of cancer as they react differently to treatment and they have different survival rates. According to American Cancer Society, if Hodgkin`s lymphoma was diagnosed during the first stage, its 1-year survival rate approximates 92% and 5-year survival rate - 86%. Second stage has also good prognosis with average 90% of 5-year survival rate. Third stage has 80% and fourth stage - 65%. Prognosis of Hodgkin`s lymphoma generally is higher than non- Hodgkin`s lymphoma.
- Painless swollen lymph nodes
- Lumps, which can appear in the arm, groin, neck or other parts of body
- Considerable weight loss
During physical examination doctor determines size of lymph nodes, liver and spleen which can swell because of over-abundant amount of white cells. If doctor suspects Hodgkin`s lymphoma, he can recommend blood test to determine number of white blood cells in body and biopsy of the area where lymph nodes are swollen.
There are two types of biopsies that can determine stage and location of Hodgkin`s lymphoma.
- Excisional biopsy is used of lymph node is visible and can be determined. During this procedure doctor cuts out lymph node of suspected area and then it is studied under the microscope. Before such biopsy, doctors usually wait some time to see if swollen lymph node will shrink and heal on its own, because it can be benign and harmless.
- Needle biopsy is used if enlarged node is deeply inside the skin and needs to be reached by special needle which can extract lymph tissue from the inside. Needles can be guided by ultrasound or other imaging devices.
- Chemotherapy is used to kill malignant cells. It is usually administered intravenously or taken as a pill. In most cases 4 types of chemotherapy drugs are used to destroy all damaged cells. They are taken in several courses.
- Radiotherapy is usually prescribed after chemotherapy to destroy remaining cancerous cells. There can be total body irradiation and selected irradiation of damaged lymph nodes.
- Stem cell transplant is performed after high doses of chemotherapy were administered when person needs healthy stem cells transplanted. Stem cells can be taken from a person before chemotherapy or they can be taken from donor, who can be either relative or person with similar DNA.
- Immunotherapy is used in combination with other treatment options to strengthen immune system of patient and protect it from possible infections.
In conclusion, we need to say that Hodgkin disease has good recovery rates and timely treatment will bring you full recovery.