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Hodgkin's Lymphoma

 

What is it?

Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphoid system. The lymphoid system is an important part of the immune system which helps the body to fight against infections. Cancer is a result of uncontrolled cell growth so that too many cells are made and they are produced in an unorganised manner.

 

Who gets it?

The disease is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 20-30 years and it is slightly more common in females.

 

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptom is prolonged neck lumps due to enlarged lymph nodes Small oval bodies of the bodies defence system, that are clustered in the armpits, groin, neck, chest and abdomen. They are normally filled with white blood cells.. Lumps can also be felt under the armpit and in the groin also due to lymph node swellings at these sites. Swollen nodes may also develop in the chest which can affect breathing. Some patients may only have these swellings, whilst others may have sweats, weight loss, itchiness, tiredness and repeated infections. As Hodgkin's lymphoma affects the lymphoid system it can cause symptoms throughout the body.

 

How is it diagnosed?

Blood tests are helpful but the diagnosis comes from performing a lymph node biopsy. This involves removing one of the swollen nodes and looking at it under the microscope. A CT scan is required to see how much of the lymphoid system is affected.
Often a bone marrow biopsy is required to help gain more information about the type and extend of the disease.

 

How is it treated?

Treatment has improved over the past few decades so that there is an 80% chance of cure on average. The prognosis varies depending on how advanced the disease is and how it responds to treatment. Your Haematologist will provide you with the information relevant to you as every case is different.


The main form of treatment is chemotherapy, occasionally a stem cell transplant is needed if chemotherapy is unsuccessful.

 

Further information

Hodgkin's Lymphoma at Macmillian cancer support

Hodgkin's Lymphoma at NHS choices

 

 

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Written by: Dr T Rider

Editor: Dr J Newman

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