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Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Symptoms and Causes

What is Hodgkin's disease?

Hodgkin disease is one of a group of cancers of the blood and lymphatic systems known as hematologic malignancies that are treated by the world-renowned specialists at the Hematologic Malignancies Program at North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute. Our cancer experts include world-renowned leaders in both the study and frontline treatment of hematologic cancers. They work closely with an interdisciplinary team of specialists to provide compassionate and individualized care using the latest protocols of chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted drug therapy.  

Hodgkin disease is a type of lymphoma, a cancer in the lymphatic system. The American Cancer Society estimates that 8,830 new cases will be diagnosed in 2011. About 10 percent to 15 percent of cases are found in children 16 years old and teenagers.

Hodgkin disease causes the cells in the lymphatic system to abnormally reproduce, eventually making the body less able to fight infection. Hodgkin disease cells can also spread to other organs. 

The following are the most common symptoms of Hodgkin disease. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Painless swelling of lymph nodes in neck, underarm and groin
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Itching of the skin

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

What Are the Risk Factors for Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Suggested risk factors for Hodgkin's disease include the following:

  • Infection with infectious mononucleosis – Infection with the Epstein-Barr virus that causes mononucleosis (also called “mono”) has been linked to Hodgkin's disease.
  • Age – Hodgkin's disease occurs most often in people between ages 15 and 40, and in people over the age of 55.
  • Gender – Hodgkin's disease is more common in men than in women.
  • Family history – Brothers and sisters of those with Hodgkin disease have a higher-than-average chance of developing this disease.
  • AIDS – (Acquired immune deficiency syndrome)

How Is Hodgkin's Lymphoma Diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures may include the following:

  • Additional blood tests
  • X-rays of the chest, bones, liver, and spleen
  • Computed tomography (also called a CT or CAT scan) – a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat and organs. CT scans are more detailed than standard x-rays.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radio frequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan – a nuclear scan that gives information about the flow of blood through the coronary arteries to the heart muscle
  • Lymph node biopsy – a procedure performed to remove tissue or cells from the body for examination under a microscope

How Is Hodgkin's Lymphoma Treated?

Specific treatment will be determined by your physician based on:

  • Your age, overall health and medical history
  • Extent of the disease.
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the disease
  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • High-dose chemotherapy with bone marrow transplant or peripheral stem cell transplantation 

Hodgkin's Lymphoma Clinical Trials

The North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute offers a full array of clinical trials. The result of this research not only impacts survival, but also enhances the quality of life. For more information about clinical trials for Hodgkin's Lymphoma, visit Cancer Clinical Trials.

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