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Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Overview and Information

  • Revised/Updated: 2019/05/13
  • Synopsis : Hodgkin's lymphoma formerly known as Hodgkin's disease is a cancer of the lymphatic system which is part of the human immune system.

Hodgkin's Lymphoma is also known as Hodgkin's Disease, and is a malignancy starting in the lymphatic tissues.

The largest age group of people who are diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease are young adults.


Main Document

Defining Hodgkin's Disease

Hodgkin's lymphoma, formerly known as Hodgkin's disease, is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of your immune system. Hodgkin lymphoma may be treated with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, with the choice of treatment depending on the age and sex of the patient and the stage, bulk, and histological subtype of the disease. The overall five-year survival rate in the United States for 2004 to 2010 is 85%.

Thomas Hodgkin (1798-1866) was an English Scholar who became famous for his research on the disease, and it was named for him. The disease was first written about in 1666 by Malpighi, but it was Thomas Hodgkin's article in 1832 titled, 'On Some Morbid Appearances of the Absorbent Glands and Spleen,' where cases of Hodgkins Lymphoma became documented clearly.

Other forms of lymphomas are classified as, 'Non-Hodgkin's,' and happen more often than Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Hodgkin's Lymphoma is unique because of the presence of cells that are referred to as, 'Reed-Sternberg,'cells in the area of malignancy. These cells, along with other forms of them, are specific to Hodgkin's Disease and appear different under a microscope from other non-Hodgkin's lymphomas and other cancer cells. Reed-Sternberg cells are something that doctors believe to be a kind of B-lymphocyte malignancy; normal B-lymphocytes are the form of cells that human antibodies use to fight off infections.

Labeled diagrams (4) showing stage 1 to stage 4 Hodgkin's lymphoma - Fig 1. Hodgkin Lymphoma. Fig 2. Hodgkin lymphoma on the same side as the diaphragm. Fig 3. Hodgkin lymphoma on both sides of the diaphragm. Fig 4. Hodgkin lymphoma in the lymph nodes above and below the diaphragm and has spread to the liver. (Cancer Research UK).
Labeled diagrams (4) showing stage 1 to stage 4 Hodgkin's lymphoma - Fig 1. Hodgkin Lymphoma. Fig 2. Hodgkin lymphoma on the same side as the diaphragm. Fig 3. Hodgkin lymphoma on both sides of the diaphragm. Fig 4. Hodgkin lymphoma in the lymph nodes above and below the diaphragm and has spread to the liver. (Cancer Research UK).

Lymphatic tissues are present in several parts of the human body and Hodgkin's Disease can begin nearly anywhere. Lymphatic tissues are enlarged by Hodgkin's malignancies, then create pressure upon important structures. Cancerous cells are able to spread around lymphatic tissues and into vessels that support them, and if upon getting into the blood vessels can spread to other sites in the human body such as the lungs or liver; although this is not as common.

There are several reasons that lymphatic tissue can become enlarged, and one of them is due to Hodgkin's Disease. More commonly it is because the body is fighting off some form of infection, and because of this Hodgkin's Disease is difficult to diagnose. Unfortunately, there is no non-cancerous, or benign form of Hodgkin's Disease. Hodkin's Disease does not pose a risk to others once a person has it.

Hodgkin's lymphoma must be distinguished from non-cancerous causes of lymph node swelling (such as various infections) and from other types of cancer. Definitive diagnosis is by lymph node biopsy (usually excisional biopsy with microscopic examination). Blood tests are also performed to assess function of major organs and to assess safety for chemotherapy. Positron emission tomography (PET) is used to detect small deposits that do not show on CT scanning. PET scans are also useful in functional imaging (by using a radio-labeled glucose to image tissues of high metabolism). In some cases a Gallium Scan may be used instead of a PET scan.

Facts and Statistics

  • The appearance of Hodgkin's Disease in children under five years old is very rare, and for children under ten years of age Hodgkin's Disease is more common for boys than girls.
  • Around 10 to 15% of every case of Hodgkin's Disease occurs in children under the age of sixteen.
  • The largest age group of people who are diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease are young adults, or those in the age range of fifteen through forty years of age; most commonly those who are twenty-five to thirty years old, or people who are in late adulthood - older than fifty-five.
  • In the year 2000 the American Cancer Society estimated that about 7,400 new cases of Hodkin's Disease would be diagnosed in the United States. Of these cases, 3,200 of them would occur in women, and 4,200 in men.
  • The Leukemia Society of America estimates that male siblings of Hodgkin's patients are at a slightly higher risk of developing Hodgkin's Disease, even if it does remain a rare occurrence.
  • An estimated 1,400 people died of Hodkin's Disease in America in 2000.
  • Improved treatment of Hodgkin's Disease has caused the death rates to fall by over sixty-percent since the early 1970's.
  • The American Cancer Society states that the one year survival rate after treatment of Hodgkin's Disease is now at 93%, and that the five year rate is at 82%.
  • The ten year survival rate, according to them, is now at 72%.
  • At fifteen years, the survival rate stands at 63%.
  • The main cause of death for persons with Hodgkin's Disease is a recurrence of it. Death due to other causes is most common for people who have survived the fifteen to twenty year mark.

Summary

There is a virus known as the, 'Epstein-Barr (EBV),' virus that seems to be a factor in around 40 or 50% of people with Hodgkin's Disease.

In other studies done recently results have shown that Interleukin-13, which is a natural cytokine in the body, might be rapidly produced by Hodkin's cells that are malignant.

Research has not revealed the cause of Hodgkin's Disease yet, and continues.



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