Hodgkins Lymphoma Awareness

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Hodgkins Lymphoma

What is Hodgkins Disease? (also called Hodgkin's lymphoma), is a cancer that starts in lymphatic tissue. Lymphatic tissue includes the lymph nodes and related organs that are part of the body's immune and blood-forming systems. The lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped organs located underneath the skin in the neck, underarm, and groin. Lymph nodes are also found inside the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. Hodgkin's disease is not contagious. You can't "catch" this disease from another person.

What are Lymph nodes? Lymph nodes make and store infection-fighting white blood cells, called lymphocytes. They are connected throughout the body by lymph vessels (narrow tubes similar to blood vessels). Lymph vessels carry a clear, watery fluid (lymphatic fluid) that contains lymphocytes. Eventually the lymphatic fluid is emptied into the blood vessels in the left upper chest. The lymph nodes are a part of a larger system called the the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system includes the spleen, the bone marrow, and the thymus.

Possible Causes
The cause of this type of lymphoma is unknown. Most case of Hodgkin lymphoma occur in people who do not have identifiable risk factors. Many studies of environmental, especially occupational, linkages have been conducted with ambiguous results.  The Epstein-Barr virus has been associated with a proportion of cases, but its precise role in the predisposition or onset of the disease is still under study. Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma occur with greater frequency among persons infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), although the virus itself is not considered to be the direct cause of Hodgkin lymphoma.

What is a Spleen? The spleen is an organ in the left side of the upper abdomen that is mainly composed of mature and immature lymphocytes. It removes old cells and other particles from the blood.

What is Bone Marrow? Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside the bones. It produces new red and white blood cells including lymphocytes.

What is the Thymus? The thymus is a small organ in the chest that is important in developing a special lymphocyte called a T cell.

More about Hodgkin's Disease Hodgkin's disease can start almost anywhere lymph nodes are present. It often starts in lymph nodes in the upper part of the body (chest, neck, or under the arms). Hodgkin's disease enlarges the lymphatic tissue, and often causes pressure on important structures (such as nearby organs). It can spread through the lymphatic vessels to other lymph nodes. Most Hodgkin's disease spreads to nearby lymph node sites in the body, lymph nodes that are far away. On rare occasions, Hodgkin's disease gets into the blood vessels. When it gets into the blood vessels, it can spread to almost any other part of the body, including the liver and lungs. In Hodgkin's disease, cells in the lymphatic system become abnormal. They divide too rapidly and grow without any order or control.

Symptoms There are many symptoms and each individual may not experience all symptoms. Some of the symptoms are: A painless swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin, unexplained recurrent fevers, night sweats, unexplained weight loss (not associated with eating disorders), and itchy skin. If you are experiencing these symptoms. Please visit a doctor immediately.

How is it Diagnosed? Your doctor may perform a series of tests to determine if you have Hodgkin's Disease. The tests may include, blood tests, x-rays, ct scans, and/or and MRI. CT (or CAT) scan: A series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): Detailed pictures of areas inside the body produced with a powerful magnet linked to a computer.

Hodgkin Lymphoma Staging
In addition to physical examination, the physician can use imaging procedures to determine the extent of the disease. These tests help the physician to evaluate: 1) the location and distribution of lymph node enlargement; 2) whether organs other than lymph nodes are involved; and 3) whether there are very large masses of tumor in one site or another.

In most cases, these procedures will include computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of the abdomen. Today, it is unusual to require a procedure referred to as a staging laparotomy, which is a surgical procedure to inspect and biopsy the lymph nodes in the abdomen and the liver and remove the spleen. The information gathered from these studies permits the patient to be assigned to a "stage" of disease.


Stage I represents apparent involvement of a single lymph node region or a single organ, such as bone.

Stage II indicates the involvement of two or three lymph node regions that are close to each other, for example, all in the neck and chest, or all in the abdomen.

Stage III represents the involvement of several lymph node regions in the neck, chest and abdomen.

Stage IV means there is widespread involvement of lymph nodes and other organs, such as lungs, liver and bone.

The four stages of Hodgkin lymphoma can be divided into "A" and "B" categories. The "A" category indicates the absence of fever, exaggerated sweating and weight loss. Patients who experience these symptoms belong to the "B" category. For example, Stage IIB indicates that the patient has two nearby lymph node sites involved in the disease and has fever, exaggerated sweating, or weight loss. Examples of two nearby sites include enlarged lymph nodes in the neck and near the collar bone - or in the neck and the armpit.

Blood cell counts, bone marrow examination and performance of blood tests that can detect liver involvement and the severity of the disease also are useful in assessing the approach to treatment.

Treatment Treatment depends on many different things. Some of factors are: the stage of the disease, the size of the enlarged lymph nodes, which symptoms are present, the age and general health of the patient.

Methods of Treatment Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are the most common treatments for Hodgkin's disease. Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) is the use of high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells.

Statistics Hodgkin's disease, accounts for less than 1 percent of all cases of cancer in the United States. It is more common in men than in women.

Cancer Cells The cancer cells in Hodgkin's disease are called Reed-Sternberg cells. The cells were named after the two doctors who first described them in detail.

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