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Radiology => Hodgkin's Disease

Hodgkin's Disease

Hodgkin's Disease or Hodgkin's Lymphoma, less severe form of two types of cancer that arise in the lymphatic system (network of small vessels that carry lymph, a fluid containing white blood cells of the immune system). The other form is non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Hodgkin's disease is characterized by usually painless but progressive enlargement of lymph nodes (or glands) and other lymphoid tissue. Hodgkin's disease more commonly occurs in people 15 to 35 years of age and over 50. Generally the first symptom of the disease is swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or groin. Later many other lymph nodes become involved, and the spleen becomes enlarged. Secondary symptoms include fever, chills, night sweats, weight loss, fatigue, and loss of appetite. The cause has remained unknown since the British physician Thomas Hodgkin first described the condition in 1832. Some researchers have suggested that macrophages (large immune cells that ingest foreign bacteria) may play a role in causing Hodgkin's disease.

Diagnosis of Hodgkin's disease is made with a biopsy (removal of a small tissue sample for examination under a microscope). Hodgkin's disease is primarily distinguished from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells, large cells that contain several nuclei. With advanced cases, the doctor will usually prescribe chemotherapy (anti-cancer drugs) for approximately six months, often in combination with radiation therapy. For patients with disease resistant to conventional treatments, or for patients who have relapses (reappearance of symptoms after an apparent cure), doctors may try high-dose chemotherapy and bone-marrow transplants. The chemotherapy destroys all of the patient's unhealthy bone marrow in preparation for the transplantation of healthy bone marrow, so the body can once again produce healthy white blood cells. The healthy bone marrow is injected into the bloodstream and, if successful, the cells find their way to the bones and begin to grow. Approximately 90 percent of Hodgkin's patients, who are diagnosed at an early stage, are cured. Advanced cases of the disease are cured 50 to 80 percent of the time.



Immune System