What is Hodgkin’s disease?
Hodgkin’s disease is a type of lymphoma, which is a blood cancer that starts in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system helps the immune system get rid of waste and fight infections. Hodgkin’s disease is also called Hodgkin lymphoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Hodgkin’s disease originates in white blood cells that help protect you from germs and infections. These white blood cells are called lymphocytes. In people with Hodgkin’s disease, these cells grow abnormally and spread beyond the lymphatic system. As the disease progresses, it makes it more difficult for your body to fight infections.
There are four general stages of Hodgkin’s disease:
- Stage I (early stage) means that cancer is found in one lymph node region.
- Stage II (locally advanced disease) means that cancer is found in two lymph node regions on one side of the diaphragm, which is the muscle beneath your lung. It may also indicate that cancer was found in one lymph node region as well as in a nearby organ.
- Stage III (advanced disease) means that cancer is found in lymph node regions both above and below your diaphragm. It may also indicate that cancer was found in one lymph node area and in one organ on opposite sides of your diaphragm.
- Stage IV (widespread disease) means that cancer was found outside the lymph nodes and has spread to other parts of your body, such as your bone marrow, liver, or lung.
How common is Hodgkin’s disease?
Hodgkin’s disease can occur at any age, but it most commonly affects people between ages 15 and 40 and people over age 55.
However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of Hodgkin’s disease?
Hodgkin’s disease signs and symptoms may include:
- Painless swelling of lymph nodes in your neck, armpits or groin
- Persistent fatigue
- Fever and chills
- Night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss – as much as 10 percent or more of your body weight
- Loss of appetite
- Increased sensitivity to the effects of alcohol or pain in your lymph nodes after drinking alcohol
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes Hodgkin’s disease?
It’s not clear what causes Hodgkin’s disease. Doctors know that most Hodgkin’s disease occurs when an infection-fighting cell called a B cell develops a mutation in its DNA. The mutation tells the cells to divide rapidly and to continue living when a healthy cell would die. The mutation causes a large number of oversized, abnormal B cells to accumulate in the lymphatic system, where they crowd out healthy cells and cause the signs and symptoms of Hodgkin’s disease.
Various types of Hodgkin’s disease exist. The type is based on the types of cells involved in your disease and their behavior. Your type determines your treatment options.
What increases my risk for Hodgkin’s disease?
Factors that increase the risk of Hodgkin’s disease include:
- Your age: Hodgkin’s disease is most often diagnosed in people between the ages of 15 and 30, as well as those older than 55.
- A family history of lymphoma: Having a close family member who has Hodgkin’s disease or non-Hodgkin’s disease increases your risk of developing Hodgkin’s disease.
- Your sex: Males are slightly more likely to develop Hodgkin’s disease.
- Past Epstein-Barr infection: People who have had illnesses caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, such as infectious mononucleosis, are more likely to develop Hodgkin’s disease than are people who haven’t had Epstein-Barr infections.
- A weakened immune system: Having a compromised immune system, such as from HIV/AIDS or from having an organ transplant requiring medications to suppress the immune response, increases the risk of Hodgkin’s disease.
Diagnosis & Treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is Hodgkin’s disease diagnosed?
To diagnose Hodgkin’s disease, your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask you about your medical history. Your doctor will also order certain tests to make a proper diagnosis. The following tests may be done:
- Imaging tests, such as X-rays or CT scans
- Lymph node biopsy, which involves removing a piece of lymph node tissue to test for the presence of abnormal cells
- Blood tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC), to measure levels of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets
- Immunophenotyping to determine the type of lymphoma cells that are present
- Lung function tests to determine how well your lungs are working
- An echocardiogram to determine how well your heart is working
- Bone marrow biopsy, which involves the removal and examination of marrow inside your bones to see if cancer has spread
Once Hodgkin’s disease diagnosis has been made, the cancer is assigned a stage. Staging describes the extent and severity of the disease. It will help your doctor determine your treatment options and outlook.
How is Hodgkin’s disease treated?
Treatment for Hodgkin’s disease typically depends on the stage of the disease. The main treatment options are chemotherapy and radiation. Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams of radiation to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy involves the use of medications that can kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs may be given orally or injected through a vein, depending on the specific medication.
Radiation therapy alone may be sufficient for treating early stage nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin’s disease. If you have nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin’s disease, you may only need radiation since the condition tends to spread more slowly than classic Hodgkin’s disease. In advanced stages, targeted therapeutic drugs may be added to your chemotherapy regimen.
A stem cell transplant may also be used if you don’t respond to chemotherapy or radiation. A stem cell transplant infuses healthy cells called stem cells into your body to replace the cancerous cells in your bone marrow.
After treatment, your doctor will want to follow up with you on a regular basis. Be sure to keep all your medical appointments and follow your doctor’s instructions.
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Hodgkin’s disease?
There’s no known way to prevent Hodgkin’s disease. However, it may be possible to reduce your risk for the disease by avoiding known risk factors such as HIV.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Hodgkin’s disease. http://www.healthline.com/health/non-hodgkins-lymphoma#Overview1. Accessed 19 Feb, 2017.
Hodgkin’s disease. http://www.healthline.com/health/hodgkins-lymphoma#Diagnosis3. Accessed 19 Feb, 2017.
Hodgkin’s disease. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hodgkins-lymphoma/basics/treatment/con-20030667. Accessed 19 Feb, 2017.
Review Date: February 19, 2017 | Last Modified: April 17, 2017