Hodgkin’s disease, also called Hodgkin lymphoma, is a type of cancer that starts with the white blood cells. The white blood cells in your body are called lymphocyte and are an important part of your immune system. There are two types of lymphomas (cancers) including Hodgkin’s disease and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They are named after Dr. Thomas Hodgkin who recognized the disease in 1832. The two types of lymphomas differ in just about every way including their cause, how they behave, complications, speed, and treatment response times. By looking at the cells under a microscope, doctors are able to determine which type of lymphoma they’re dealing with.
Causes of Hodgkin’s Disease
Hodgkin’s disease can occur in any part of the body where lymphoid tissue exists meaning it can start just about anywhere. It is most common in the lymph nodes in the upper part of the body such as in the neck, chest, or under the arms. There is no known cause of Hodgkin’s disease, though researchers have narrowed it down to some risk factors. One risk factor is age, with people between 15 and 40 being at a higher risk of getting the disease. It is slightly more common in males and geographically, is seen more in Canada, the United States, and northern Europe than other countries. If you have a sibling with Hodgkin’s, you are at a higher risk for the disease. There is also an increased risk for Hodgkin’s disease if you have HIV or AIDS.
Types of Hodgkin’s Disease
There are two types of Hodgkin’s disease; classic and nodular lymphocyte predominant. Classic is the most common, accounting for approximately 95% of all Hodgkin’s disease cases. Nodular sclerosis Hodgkin’s disease is rarer, accounting for only about 5% of the Hodgkin’s disease cases. It can occur at any age though it is more common among men. It involves lymph node sin the arm and neck. The risk factors for this type are the same as most cancers such as smoking or exposure to sunlight.
Symptoms of Hodgkin’s Disease
The main symptoms for this disease are swollen or tender lymph nodes under your skin, particularly in the groin, side of the neck, or in the arm pit. Additional symptoms of Hodgkin’s disease include a fever that doesn’t go away, unexplained weight loss, severe and constant itching, and night sweats that require changing your clothing or bedding. Treating Hodgkin’s lymphoma requires a combination of treatments including medication therapy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy as with most cancers.