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Hodgkin's Disease

What is Hodgkin's Disease ?

Hodgkin's disease is one of a group of cancers called lymphomas. Lymphoma is a general term for cancers that develop in the lymphatic system.

Hodgkin's disease is also called as Hodgkin's lymphoma, is a type of lymphoma first described by Thomas Hodgkin in 1832.

In Hodgkin's disease, cells in the lymphatic system grow abnormally and may spread beyond the lymphatic system. As Hodgkin's disease progresses, it compromises your body's ability to fight infection.

Hodgkin's disease most commonly affects people between the ages of 15 and 40 and people older than age 55.

Causes of Hodgkin's Disease

No one really knows what causes Hodgkin's disease, but we do know that it can't be caused by getting someone else's germs or by eating the wrong foods. People who have had Epstein-Barr virus, which can cause infectious mononucleosis (mono), may be at a slightly higher risk for Hodgkin's. There is a slightly increased risk of Hodgkin's among family members of patients who carry the disease.

Signs & Symptoms of Hodgkin's Disease

  • Painless swelling of lymph nodes in neck, underarm, and groin
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss
  • Flank pain
  • General itching of the skin

The symptoms of Hodgkin's disease may resemble other blood disorders or medical problems, such as influenza or other infections. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

Diagnostic Tests

  • Physical examination
  • Lymph node biopsy
  • Bone marrow biopsy
  • CT scans of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis
  • Hematologic tests
A staging laparotomy is necessary for patients under age 55 and for those without obvious stage III or stage IV disease, lymphocyte predominance subtype histology, or medical contraindications.


Depending on the stage of the disease, the patient may receive chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or both. Correct treatment allows longer survival and may even induce a cure in many patients.

Stages I and II (limited disease) can be treated with localized radiation therapy, with chemotherapy or with a combination of both. Stages III and IV (extensive disease) are treated with chemotherapy alone or a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The best treatment for an individual patient depends on many factors, and should be discussed in detail with a doctor who has experience treating this disease.

Other treatments include autologous bone marrow transplantation or autologous peripheral blood sternal transfusions and immunotherapy, which by itself hasn't proved effective.

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