Hodgkin’s disease is more commonly known as Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It is a form of cancer that develops in the body’s white blood cells, called lymphocytes. The disease originates in and spreads to the infection-fighting lymph nodes throughout the body. Hodgkin’s disease has two targeted age groups: adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15-35, and adults over 55 years of age.
Hodgkin Disease Signs & Symptoms
Hodgkin’s disease comes with a variety of symptoms. One common symptom is the painless enlargement of one or more lymph nodes, usually in the neck or shoulders. Other typical symptoms can include:
- Itchy skin
- Night sweats
- Noticeable weight loss
- Back pain
- Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly): This condition appears in about 30% of patients.
- Enlarged liver (hepatomegaly): This condition occurs in approximately 5% of patients.
- Enlarged spleen and liver (hepatosplenomegaly).
Hodgkin Disease Diagnosis & Staging
A biopsy, a test in which a piece of the tumor is cut away and examined under a microscope, gives the most accurate diagnosis of Hodgkin’s disease. Blood tests are often prescribed to determine the organs’ functions and how well the body may respond to chemotherapy.
The following categories are used in the staging, or progression, of the disease:
- Stage I: The cancer resides in a lymph node (usually within the cervical region) or extralymphatic site
- Stage II: The cancer resides in two or more lymphatic regions on the same side as the diaphragm, or of one lymph node region and one extralymphatic site
- Stage III: The cancer resides in the lymph nodes on both sides of the diaphragm and may include the spleen, or one extralymphatic site
- Stage IV: The cancer has reached one or more extralymphatic organs
Hodgkin Disease Treatment
Patients with early-stage Hodgkin’s disease have been known to respond well to chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The course of treatment depends on the stage of the illness, the location of the tumors, and the patient’s age and sex. Patients with later-stage Hodgkin’s disease are usually treated with chemotherapy.
Hodgkin Disease Outlook
Because of the continuing advances in chemotherapy treatments, the prognosis for most patients has steadily improved over the past several decades. In some European clinical trials, patients’ 5-year survival rates varied from 85% to 98%.