Published July 26, 2011 05:48
Hodgkin's Lymphoma is a type of lymphatic cancer primarily affecting people 15-35 years old or those over 55. People at higher risk for the disease include those with prior Ebstein-Barr virus infection, present immune deficiency (HIV disease or on immunosuppressant medications) and a family history of lymphoma. Symptoms can include persistent enlarged painless lymph nodes, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, fever, night sweats, loss of appetite, persistent cough, chest pain or trouble breathing.
A biopsy of a lymph node is needed to make a diagnosis. The evaluation of the patient with Hodgkin's Lymphoma also involves blood tests, X-rays, CT scans and sometimes bone marrow biopsies.
The prognosis of this disease, as with many cancers, depends on what stage the patient is in at the time they begin treatment.
Stage I - disease is confined to only one lymph node
Stage II - disease is confined to several lymph nodes in one section of the body (above or below the diaphragm)
Stage III - disease is above and below the diaphragm
Stage IV - disease has spread to multiple organs throughout the body such as lung, liver, bone, etc.
Each stage is further defined by the letter A (no generalized symptoms) or B (generalized symptoms such as fever, weight loss, night sweats, loss of appetite).
The approach to treatment is based on the stage of the disease. Frequently, a combination of chemotherapy (medications) and radiation are used.
By Walter C. Taylor, MD
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