Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the cancer of the lymphatic system, which is a part of the immune system. The lymphatic system is very important in that it is involved in the production of the white blood cells that fight against disease causing agents, like bacteria, fungi, and viruses. In this cancer, the lymph node cells divide uncontrollably and become malignant. These abnormal cells are also capable of invading other healthy cells in the body, resulting in the spread of the cancer. This type of cancer is most common among people between the ages of 15-years-old and 30-years-old. It also occurs among elderly people above 50-years-old. The condition is seen to be more common among males than in females.
The actual cause of Hodgkin’s lymphoma is still not known.
A number of factors are thought to predispose a person towards developing this disease:
- Viruses – The presence of Epstein-Barr virus, which normally causes the disease mononucleosis, and the presence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are known to increase the risk of this disease.
- Family history – Hodgkin’s lymphoma seems to be running in the families, as siblings of individuals with this form of cancer are more prone to develop this condition. Further, if one of the parents have this condition, children are more likely to get it.
- Weak immune system – People with weakened immune systems also seem to be at an increased risk of developing Hodgkin’s disease.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is characterized by:
- Swelling in the lymph nodes
- Loss of weight
- Persistent fever
- Sever night sweats
- Difficulty in breathing
- Loss of appetite
Treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma depends on the patient’s age, stage of cancer, size of tumor, and the overall health of the individual. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of both is the most common treatment option for this cancer. Radiation therapy is generally done after a course of chemotherapy. Stem cell transplants are an option to replace the affected bone marrow with healthy cells that will help in the production of blood cells. Stem cell transplants is usually the treatment options when cancer returns after an initial treatment.
Alternative treatment options that may help in alleviating the symptoms include acupuncture, aromatherapy, meditation and other relaxation techniques, and massages. Staying active and having a healthy diet is very important during the treatment period.