Hodgkin’s lymphoma, more commonly referred to as Hodgkin’s disease, is a medical condition wherein the disease is properly spread from lymph node to lymph node. This is due to the abundance of Reed-Sternberg cells based and is also one of several types of cancers. Lymphomas are usually more common in the elderly. That is why the incidence of developing lymphomas will increase as a person grows older. But further studies have shown that Hodgkin’s disease actually occurs among young adults between 15 to 35 years of age and 55 years and above. That’s two different age groups. This is because of the bimodal incidence curve, one of the most distinct qualities possessed by Hodgkin’s disease. It was also found out that the occurrence of the disease in men is higher than in women.
Epstein-Barr Virus infection is another factor that can precipitate Hodgkin’s disease. The virus is autoimmune and is closely related to the virus causing Herpes. If a person’s immune system is suffering from AIDs or is HIV positive, the likelihood of suffering from Hodgkin’s disease will become higher since the immune system is not functioning up to par.
Hodgkin’s Disease Remain Unraveled
Hodgkin’s disease is a condition of unknown cause. Its idiopathic nature makes it all the more difficult to diagnose properly. In the past, multiple attempts have been made to isolate the causative agents from the patients. Some attempts were successful but most were not. It was then found out that microorganisms like herpes zoster, mycobaceterium tuberculosis, diptheroids, and brucella all possess the potential to cause Hodgkin’s disease. Curiously though, none of the four was considered the real causative agent of Hodgkin’s disease.
Whether Hodgkin’s disease is a true neoplasm still remains a subject of debate up to this day. But according to recent clinical studies, massive tumor mass portions are made up of non-neoplastic inflammatory cells. Therefore, those who believe that Hodgkin’s disease is NOT a true neoplasm are definitely making a strong case. The ability to properly distinguish Hodgkin’s disease from other similar cancers plays a vital role. Lymph node biopsy is the test usually performed since it is one of the more definitive procedures.
A lymph node biopsy with a positive result will show that the lymph node’s structure is either completely or just partially wiped out by the Reed-Sternberg cells. These cells are huge in size, reaching as high as 20 to 50 micrometers. They are also homogenous and amphophilic in consistency. Each nucleus consists of an eosinophilic nucleolus and a thick nuclear membrane.
Tests Done To Diagnose Hodgkin’s Disease
Here are other commonly performed diagnostic tests for Hodgkin’s Disease:
1. Blood Chemistry - assesses if all major organs are working properly. It will also be determined whether or not it is safe to do chemotherapy. Blood tests also will the detect if the patient is anemic which is something very common among Hodgkin’s disease sufferers.
2. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
4. Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
5. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Additionally, a thorough physical examination is performed prior to doing all the tests above.
Common Symptoms To Encounter
Clinical Manifestations for Hodgkin’s disease may differ from person to person. It can very easily be mistaken for being some other disease. The initial symptom usually manifested is lymph node swelling. The neck is the typical location for swelling but it can occasionally be in either or both the axilla and inguinal-femoral. Symptoms more indicative of Hodgkin’s disease are high-grade fever, night sweats, weight loss, and pruritus.
The thing that makes Hodgkin’s disease an extremely difficult condition to diagnose is that its lack of diversity from other medical conditions. In other words, the characteristics of the disease possess a lot of similarities with others.
Hodgkin’s Disease Classification
Like any other type of cancer, Hodgkin’s disease has stages. A series of exams have to be done to the patient in order to confirm the extent of the disease or how widely it has already spread in the body. Here is where the Ann Arbor staging classification will come into play. It is a style of classifying Hodgkin’s disease and its degree of involvement with other organs.
The stages are described as follows:
* Stage I is wherein only one lymph node is affected.
* Stage II is where two or more lymph nodes are involved.
* Stage III is where the spleen becomes affected together with two or more lymph nodes.
* Stage IV is wherein the disease has already metastasized to other organs outside the lymph node.
The objective of the medical management is to eradicate as many malignant cells as it can. General treatment modalities applicable for Hodgkin’s disease patients are radiation therapy and chemotherapy. A procedure performed that is more specific to the disease is the bone marrow transplant. All these procedures may be done all together or separately, depending on the patients’ tolerance.
Hodgkin’s disease has a surprisingly high survival rate of 93 percent. But the success of the interventions given will all depend on these four vital factors:
1. Location and amount of lymph nodes involved.
2. How old or young is the patient.
3. The stage of the cancer.
4. Overall state of well-being.
As mentioned above, preventive measures of Hodgkin’s disease are not fully defined due to the condition’s idiopathic nature. This is why taking care of your overall health is one way to get started. Implementing measures to strengthen your immune system another way to go. Not only will you help yourself prevent the acquisition of Hodgkin’s disease but also other diseases. Your immune system is one of your body’s primary defenses. If it is not working well, then you will become susceptible to all possible diseases. Take your vitamins everyday. As small or usually neglect-able as that task may be, it could be the very one that can save you.
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