The lymph system is an important part of our body’s immune system. The lymph system in our body basically comprises a network of lymph nodes, which spread all over the body. When the cells of lymph nodes (white blood cells/ lymphocytes) become cancerous, they start multiplying at an unregulated rate and lead to enlargement of the lymph node. Thus, cancer affecting lymphocytes is called Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Cancerous cells of one lymph node infect lymph nodes of nearby areas and thus lymphoma spreads gradually. Lymphoma might not get restricted to lymph cells but can also affect the liver, lungs, and bone marrow or any organ containing lymphoid tissue. This type of cancer is called called Hodgkin’s disease.
- There are two types of Hodgkin’s disease, depending on the appearance of cancerous cells present in the enlarged lymph nodes. They are Classis Hodgkin’s disease and NLP (Non-Lymphocyte Predominant) Hodgkin’s disease.
- Another classification divides Hodgkin’s disease into Stages 1, 2, 3, and 4 depending on its spread in and around the diaphragm.
- In this cancer, based on the nature of cancerous cells, resistant and recurrent types of Hodgkin’s disease have also been classified.
Symptoms of Hodgkin’s Disease
Since both types of Hodgkin’s disease are malignant in nature they spread and thus symptoms depend on the organs affected by the disease.
- Enlarged lymph nodes are the visible symptoms but as they are painless, they tend to be ignored for some time. Probability of lymphoma formation is higher in armpits, neck area, and groin.
- Spread of lymphoma may be accompanied by fever, chills, weight loss, itchy skin, loss of appetite, and even night sweats.
- With advancing stage, the symptoms become worse. The lymphoma grows and spreads gradually. The hampered functioning of the affected organs might also be noticed.
- Presentation with a lump in the prone areas or any area of the body where lymph nodes are present, calls for physical examination of the area. Palpable lumps might be a symptom of lymphoma.
- To confirm findings of physical examination, biopsy and blood tests are also done. Since lymphoma formation is a kind of genetic disorder, study of family history is done to check for hereditary reasons of the disease. This helps in deciding the treatment plan.
- Treatment given to a patient of Hodgkin’s diseases depends on the type and stage of the disease. By stage, we mean the extent of spread and the organs affected by this cancer. Other than this, the patient’s medical history, age, and general health all are taken into account for deciding the course of treatment.
- As mentioned earlier, noticing and treating at earlier stages can cure Hodgkin’s disease completely.
- Treatment might be given as only chemotherapy, only radiotherapy, or combination of both. This is decided based on the stage of the diseases and the organs to which lymphoma has spread.
- Only chemotherapy helps cure early stages of the disease while radiotherapy is necessary to ensure that the malignant cells are completely destroyed.
Proper diagnosis is important to detect Hodgkin’s disease at early stages and to cure completely. As the stages advance and cancer spreads, symptoms become complex and treatment becomes difficult.
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