Hodgkin’s lymphoma, also referred to as Hodgkin’s disease, is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is an important part of your immune system. In this type of cancer, cells in the lymphatic system grow abnormally and may spread beyond the lymphatic system. As the cancer progresses, your body will be unable to fight infection. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is one of two common types of cancers of the lymphatic system, the other one is non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Symptoms of Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Hodgkin’s lymphoma signs and symptoms may include:
- Painless swelling of lymph nodes in your neck, armpits or groin
- Unrelenting fatigue
- Fever and chills
- Night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Increased sensitivity to the effects of alcohol or pain in your lymph nodes after drinking alcohol
Tests and procedures for Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Diagnoses of Hodgkin’s lymphoma include:
- Physical exam: Your doctor checks for swollen lymph nodes, including in your neck, underarm and groin, as well as a swollen spleen or liver.
- Blood tests: A sample of your blood is examined in a lab to see if anything in your blood indicates the possibility of cancer.
- Imaging tests: Imaging tests used to diagnose Hodgkin’s lymphoma include X-ray, CT scan and PET scan.
- Surgery to remove a swollen lymph node: A small surgery may be done to remove all or part of an enlarged lymph node for testing. The lymph node is sent to a laboratory for testing.
- Biopsy: A bone marrow biopsy may be used to look for signs of cancer in the bone marrow. During this procedure, a small amount of bone marrow, blood and bone are removed through a needle.
Treatment and medications for Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma depends on your type and stage of disease, your overall health, and your preferences. The prime objective of treatment is to destroy as many cancer cells as possible.
- Chemotherapy: It is a drug treatment that uses chemicals to kill lymphoma cells. Chemotherapy drugs travel through your bloodstream and can reach nearly all areas of your body. The therapy is often used in combination with radiation therapy in people with early-stage classical type Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Radiation therapy is normally done after chemotherapy.
- Radiation therapy: It uses high-energy beams, such as X-rays, to destroy cancer cells. For Hodgkin’s lymphoma, radiation therapy can be used alone, but it is often used after chemotherapy. However, radiation therapy can cause skin redness and hair loss at the site where the radiation is aimed.
- Stem cell transplant: It is a treatment to replace your diseased bone marrow with healthy stem cells that help you grow new bone marrow. Stem cell transplant may be an option if Hodgkin’s lymphoma recurs.
Receiving a diagnosis of cancer doesn’t mean you have to stop doing the things you enjoy or normally do. It’s important to stay active and involved as much as you can.