Hodgkin’s Disease – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Methods

Hodgkin’s disease is a type of cancer called a lymphoma , which is a cancer of the lymphatic system. Hodgkin’s has a long and rich history. The disease was named after Thomas Hodgkin, a English scholar and Quaker physician working at Guy’s Hospital in England. Hodgkin’s disease, sometimes called Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is a cancer that starts in lymphatic tissue. It’s named after the British physician Thomas Hodgkin, who first described the disease in 1832 and noted several characteristics that distinguish it from other lymphomas. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is characterized clinically by the orderly spread of disease from one lymph node group to another and by the development of systemic symptoms with advanced disease. Pathologically, the disease is characterized by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells. In the United States, approximately 1,700 children and adolescents younger than 20 are diagnosed with lymphomas each year. Hodgkin’s disease enlarges the lymphatic tissue, which can then cause pressure on important structures. It can spread through the lymphatic vessels to other lymph nodes. In Hodgkin’s disease, cells in the lymphatic system become abnormal. They divide too rapidly and grow without any order or control. Because lymphatic tissue is present in many parts of the body, Hodgkin’s disease can start almost anywhere.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma was one of the first cancers to be rendered curable by combination chemotherapy. The lymph nodes are oval, pea-sized organs. They are found beneath the skin along the route of large blood vessels, and they are grouped in areas such as the neck, underarms, groin, abdomen (trunk), and pelvis (hips). Hodgkin’s disease may occur in a single lymph node, a group of lymph nodes, or, sometimes, in other parts of the lymphatic system such as the bone marrow and spleen. This type of cancer tends to spread in a fairly orderly way from one group of lymph nodes to the next group. 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. The most common sites are in the chest, neck, or under the arms. It’s one of two common types of cancers of the lymphatic system. 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.Hodgkin’s disease is rare in children under 5 years of age. In children under age 10, it is more common in boys than girls.

Causes of Hodgkin’s disease

The common causes and risk factor’s of Hodgkin’s disease include the following:

The exact cause of Hodgkin’s lymphoma is unknown.

People who have had Epstein-Barr virus, which can cause infectious mononucleosis (mono), may be at a slightly higher risk for Hodgkin’s.

Many factors- such as age and genetics – are probably beyond our control.

Environmental or lifestyle-related variables.

Family members of patients who carry the disease.

It is more common in men than in women.

Symptoms of Hodgkin’s disease

Some sign and symptoms related to Hodgkin’s disease are as follows:

Fever and chills.

Night sweats.

Painless swelling of lymph nodes in your neck, armpits or groin.

Kids who have Hodgkin’s disease sometimes think they have the flu. They may have fevers, feel achy, or have swollen glands, which look and feel like bumps, often in the neck or groin area.

Itchiness on the trunk of the body.

Unusual back or abdominal pain.

Fatigue.

Unexplained weight loss.

Shortness of breath.

Treatment of Hodgkin’s disease

Here is list of the methods for treating Hodgkin’s disease:

When the disease is confined to a limited area, radiation therapy is the treatment of choice.

Stem cell transplantation- to enable treatment with high doses of chemotherapy.

Biological therapies- that use naturally occurring substances of the immune system to stop lymphoma progression.

Bone marrow transplant.

For patients with clinical stage IA disease that is nonbulky and involves the mediastinum with NS histology, mantle irradiation alone may be adequate therapy.

Combined modality therapy, which is chemotherapy for 4-6 cycles followed by involved-field radiotherapy, is used.

The most commonly used regimen is called ABVD and is comprised of four chemotherapy agents. These drugs are given intravenously (in the vein) every 14 days, often up to 12 times.