Table of contents
What is Hodgkin’s lymphoma?
Hodgkin’s lymphoma, also known as Hodgkin’s disease, is a type of cancer affecting the lymphatic system. Lymphomas are basically a group of blood cancers that start in the lymphatic systems. The lymphatic systems consist of a network of organs, nodes, and blood vessels throughout the body.
In the case of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the white blood cells called lymphocytes grow out of control, causing the lymph nodes to swell and grow rapidly.
Hodgkin’s Disease affects two age groups:
- People who are between 15- 30 years
- People who are over 55 years.
Around 2000-2500 new cases of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma occur every year, most of which are seen in people between the ages of 20-29. The disease spreads widely without diagnosis and treatment and becomes very difficult to handle. More than Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non-Hodgkin’s disease is common and seen in many people. The actual reason for Hodgkin’s disease isn’t found yet, but some assumptions have been made.
What are the stages of Hodgkin’s lymphoma?
When HD is detected, it is divided into 4 stages, all describing the whole cycle from the beginning to its extremity and also from mildness to intense level.
- Stage 1 (INITIAL STAGE) – It shows that only one area of the lymphatic system is affected, and mild symptoms start appearing.
- Stage 2 (INTERMEDIATE)– It is present on one side of the diaphragm and presents one or two lymph nodes of a particular side, above or below.
- Stage 3 (ADVANCED)– It starts spreading on the other side from the infected side.
- Stage 4 (HIGHLY ADVANCED)– It gradually affects the spleen, liver, or bone marrow.
What are the risk factors of Hodgkin’s lymphoma?
- Hodgkin’s lymphoma is mostly seen in males than in females.
- People with AIDS and HIV have more chances.
- If someone has thyroid, then Hodgkin’s can occur.
- A person with a family history is susceptible to HD.
- History of Ebstein- Barr virus (EBV) infection.
- Immunocompromised patients.
- Incidence is high in males than in females.
How is Hodgkin’s lymphoma treated?
Treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma depends upon the stage of lymphoma, its severity, and the overall patient’s condition. The main aim behind Hodgkin’s Lymphoma treatment is to kill abnormal cells and to keep normal cells intact.
Radiation therapy can alone effortlessly detect and destroy stage 1 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. During radiation therapy, a high-energy radiation beam is used to destroy cancer cells in specific areas of the body. In addition, radiation therapy can sometimes be used with chemotherapy in treating classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Orally or intravenous anticancer drugs or medicines are given when one opts for this treatment. It passes through the bloodstream or veins and moves towards all body parts.
Chemotherapy treatment is done in two ways – either by giving tablets orally or through injections. Chemotherapy should be done for a limited time as it has life-threatening side effects, from hair loss to heart and lung problems. Afterward, chemotherapy could be done individually or by combining it with radiation therapy, depending on the doctor’s advice or the patient’s preference.
Bone marrow Transplant
It is also called stem cell transplant and immunotherapy. It can be considered a treatment option in patients who do not respond well to chemotherapy or radiation therapy. During the stem cell transplant procedure, they infuse healthy cells called stem cells into the body to replace the cancerous cells in the bone marrow. A bone marrow transplant can be done in two ways:
- Autologous stem cell transplant– During this procedure, the patient’s stem cells are collected and stored before the treatment until the patient finishes their complete radiation or chemotherapy. Once the treatment is completed, the stored stem cells are inserted back into the patient’s body.
- Allogenic stem cell transplant– The stem cells are collected from the donor and transplanted into the patient’s body during this procedure. The donor can be either patient’s close relatives, siblings, etc. This treatment option is opted for only when an autologous stem cell transplant fails.
Along with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, various other therapies may be used in treating Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They include:
- Targeted therapy- During this therapy, the drug attacks the targeted cancer cells without damaging the healthy cells.
- Brentuximab vedotin is a new drug used to treat a specific type of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Alternative therapy is useful in treating HD’s symptoms, although they don’t cure the disease. They include:
- Massage therapy
- Yoga, tai chi, or meditation to relax the body.
How is Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosed?
Physical examination – During the physical examination, the doctor examines the patient thoroughly. Checks for any signs of abnormalities in the patient. The doctor records the medical history and family history of the patient.
Blood tests – A blood sample can help detect cancerous cells. It can also detect the count of RBC, WBC, and platelets.
Bone marrow biopsy – Penetration of a needle in the hip bone can trace the bone marrow cells and remove that.
Lymph node biopsy – This test can monitor the increased size of lymph nodes.
Imaging tests- Imaging tests are used to look for any signs of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in other body areas. They include CT scans, x-rays, PET scans, etc.
Symptoms of Hodgkin’s lymphoma are listed below:
- Loss of appetite
- Pain in Lymph nodes during alcohol consumption
- Night sweats
- Breathing problems
- Swelling in arms, shoulders, neck
- Unreasonable weight loss
The life expectancy and prognosis of a person diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma depend upon various factors such as the stage of lymphoma, the type of lymphoma, the condition of the patient, etc. However, the advancement in treatment over a few decades and early diagnosis and treatment of cancer will result in a good prognosis for the patient and an increase in survival rate. According to the American Cancer Society, the relatively 5 years survival rate is about 87%.
The side effects of Hodgkin’s lymphoma are listed below:
i. Second cancer
iii. Lung damage
iv. Infections due to the immunocompromised state of the patient
v. Thyroid problems