Lymphomas are cancers of the lymph system, a connecting network of glands and vessels that
circulates white blood cells called lymphocytes. The spleen, thymus, and tonsils are also
part of the lymph system. Lymphomas are a diverse group of diseases that includes
Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's disease. Approximately, 85,000 new cases of lymphomas
are diagnosed each year.
Cause of Hodgkin's Disease
The cause of Hodgkin's disease is not known. Fifty to 90 percent of the individuals with
Hodgkin's have the Epstein-Barr virus in malignant cells, but the presence of this virus
may or not be the cause of the disease. The disease usually affects people 15 to 35 years
old but can occur in those older than 55 years old.
research in Hodgkin's & Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
Symptoms of Hodgkin's
Swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin is usually the first symptom.
Swelling does not necessarily mean that you have Hodgkin's, but if the swelling last for
more than two weeks, you should see your physician. Other symptoms include persistent
fatigue, fever and chills, unexplained weight loss and appetite loss, severe skin itch,
and drenching night sweats.
Diagnosis of Hodgkin's
As with other suspected cancers, the doctor will ask about your symptoms, conduct an
extensive physical examination, take a chest x-ray, and perform blood and urine tests. A
lymph node biopsy (examining a piece of the lymph node) is usually done also. If
diagnosed, a computed tomography (CT) is done along with other tests such as a bone marrow
Treatment for Hodgkin's
If the cancer is limited, then radiation therapy is used. Sometimes it is used along with
chemotherapy. In the early stages, Hodgkin's is very treatable. If the cancer is limited
to one lymph node region and treated, 90 percent of people are disease-free after 10
years. If two lymph nodes are involved, 70 percent of the people are disease-free after
the same time period.
For advanced Hodgkin's disease, chemotherapy is the primary treatment. Two-thirds of the
people are alive and disease-free long-term after chemotherapy. If relapsed after the
initial chemotherapy, higher doses are usually given. Before treatment, the bone marrow is
removed, then the higher doses of chemotherapy are given, and then the bone marrow is
replaced after the chemotherapy treatment is finished.
This type of lymphoma is a group of tumors that arises from the lymphocytes (white blood
cells). These tumors are more common than Hodgkin's-type tumors. People taking
immunosupressive therapy (for transplants) and individuals with AIDS are at a higher risk
of developing this disease. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is usually found in individuals 45 to
70 years of age. The diagnosis and symptoms for this disease are virtually the same as
Hodgkin's disease but it is not as curable. The five-year survival rate is about 75
percent. Even with intermediate and high-grade stages, 60 to 80 percent of affected
individuals enter complete remission with chemotherapy.
Treatments for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Treatment for non-Hodgkin's is also similar to Hodgkin's disease. Usually, chemotherapy is
used with a combination of anti-cancer drugs. Sometimes an operation to decrease the size
of the tumor is done if the tumor is in the stomach or in other unusual places. Radiation
is also used in low to intermediate instances. Bone marrow is a new treatment that is used
to treat both kinds of lymphoma. Here the bone marrow is taken out of the body, treated
for cancer, and then frozen while high doses of chemotherapy is administered. After the
treatment, the bone marrow is injected back into the body.
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