Hodgkin’s disease

November 12, 2012

Hodgkin’s disease

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a form of cancer that mostly affects children and teenagers

A cancer in the lymphatic system is known as lymphoma and Hodgkin’s disease is a type of lymphoma. It is a very rare cancer mostly affecting children and teens aged 10 to 14. Hodgkin disease was first diagnosed in 1832; it wasn’t for another 40 years that doctors began to note different kinds of lymphoma.

What is the lymphatic system?

The lymphatic system helps to keep us healthy by fighting infection – it includes tonsils, spleen, bone marrow and lymph nodes. Lymphoma begins in the lymph system.

Causes

Whilst it is not yet known what causes Hodgkin’s disease it is known what does not cause it – other people’s germs or eating the wrong type of food cannot cause lymphoma. There is some indication that those who have had the Epstein-Barr virus may be at slightly higher risk of contracting Hodgkin’s and there also seems to be familial link.

Symptoms

The first indication of Hodgkin’s disease may be ‘flu like symptoms’, some children have no obvious symptoms; others may exhibit one or more of the following -

  • Fever and achiness

  • Swollen, lumpy glands often in the neck or groin

  • Fatigue

  • Excessive sweating especially at night

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Cough or difficulty breathing (due to enlarged lymph nodes in the chest)

Diagnosis

If Hodgkin’s disease is suspected then no doubt some tests will be carried out. These may included X-Rays; CT scan; and finally a biopsy. Once Hodgkin’s has been confirmed the doctor will want to know which stage the cancer has reached in order to decide on a treatment plan- stage one meaning the cancer has been found early, is in one small part of the body and is, therefore, easier to treat. Stage four Hodgkin’s means the disease has spread throughout the whole body.

Treatments

Generally Hodgkin’s disease is treated with both chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

  • Chemotherapy – strong, effective medicine use to fight the cancer cells. Side effects include nausea and vomiting; hair loss; extreme fatigue; increased risk of infection and reducing of blood counts.

  • Radiation therapy – use of strong X-Rays to kill the cancer cells, this treatment is administered via a machine which targets only the cancer cells. Radiation may cause nausea and fatigue and is usually given alongside chemotherapy.

Prognosis

Most young people who suffer Hodgkin’s disease make a full recovery and are able to live full and normal lives, regular medical checks will need to be undertaken in order to ensure that the treatment has been effective.

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