About Hodgkin's

What is Hodgkin's disease?
(also called Hodgkin's lymphoma), is a cancer that starts in lymphatic tissue. Lymphatic tissue includes the lymph nodes and related organs that are part of the body's immune and blood-forming systems. The lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped organs located underneath the skin in the neck, underarm, and groin. Lymph nodes are also found inside the chest, abdomen, and pelvis.  Hodgkin's disease is not contagious. You can't "catch" this disease from another person.

What are Lymph nodes?
Lymph nodes make and store infection-fighting white blood cells, called lymphocytes. They are connected throughout the body by lymph vessels (narrow tubes similar to blood vessels). Lymph vessels carry a clear, watery fluid (lymphatic fluid) that contains lymphocytes. Eventually the lymphatic fluid is emptied into the blood vessels in the left upper chest.  The lymph nodes are a part of a larger system called the the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system includes the spleen, the bone marrow, and the thymus.

What is a Spleen?
The spleen is an organ in the left side of the upper abdomen that is mainly composed of mature and immature lymphocytes. It removes old cells and other particles from the blood.

What is Bone Marrow?
Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside the bones. It produces new red and white blood cells including lymphocytes.

What is the Thymus?
The thymus is a small organ in the chest that is important in developing a special lymphocyte called a T cell.

More about Hodgkin's Disease
Hodgkin's disease can start almost anywhere lymph nodes are present. It often starts in lymph nodes in the upper part of the body (chest, neck, or under the arms).  Hodgkin's disease enlarges the lymphatic tissue, and often causes pressure on important structures (such as nearby organs). It can spread through the lymphatic vessels to other lymph nodes. Most Hodgkin's disease spreads to nearby lymph node sites in the body, lymph nodes that are far away. On rare occasions, Hodgkin's disease gets into the blood vessels. When it gets into the blood vessels, it can spread to almost any other part of the body, including the liver and lungs.  In Hodgkin's disease, cells in the lymphatic system become abnormal. They divide too rapidly and grow without any order or control.

There are many symptoms and each individual may not experience all symptoms. Some of the symptoms are: A painless swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin, unexplained recurrent fevers, night sweats, unexplained weight loss (not associated with eating disorders), and itchy skin.
If you are experiencing these symptoms. Please visit a doctor immediately.

How is it Diagnosed?
Your doctor may perform a series of tests to determine if you have Hodgkin's Disease. The tests may include, blood tests, x-rays, ct scans, and/or and MRI.  CT (or CAT) scan: A series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body.  MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): Detailed pictures of areas inside the body produced with a powerful magnet linked to a computer.

Treatment depends on many different things. Some of factors are: the stage of the disease, the size of the enlarged lymph nodes, which symptoms are present, the age and general health of the patient.

Methods of Treatment
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are the most common treatments for Hodgkin's disease.  Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) is the use of high-energy rays to kill cancer cells.  Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells.

Hodgkin's disease, accounts for less than 1 percent of all cases of cancer in the United States.  It is more common in men than in women.

Cancer Cells?
The cancer cells in Hodgkin's disease are called Reed-Sternberg cells. The cells were named after the two doctors who first described them in detail.

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