Hodgkin's disease
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Hodgkin's disease, also known as Hodgkin's lymphoma, is a disease characterized by the spreading of a disease from one lymph node to another in an orderly manner. In a pathological point of view, the disease is associated with the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells. Simply put, Hodgkin's Disease is a type of cancer. Typically, the incidence of lymphomas increases as age increases. But in the case of Hodgkin's Disease it has a bimodal incidence curve. This means that the disease actually occurs in two sets of different age groups. The first set is the group of young adult with ages from 15 to 35 years old. The second set of age group is from 55 years old and above. Hodgkin's Disease is also more prominent in men than in women.

Another factor that may predispose a person from Hodgkin's Disease is if he or she has been infected with the Epstein-Barr virus (autoimmune virus related to herpes virus) in the past. A person with a compromised immune system, like a person with HIV or AIDS, will also be very susceptible from Hodgkin's Disease.


Hodgkin's Disease is an idiopathic disease. This means that the cause of the disease is unknown. There have been a lot of attempts in the past to isolate a microorganism from patients suffering with the disease. Among all the isolated pathogens, there were some that stood out as candidates as causes of Hodgkin's Disease. These are the brucella, mycobacterium tuberculosis, herpes viruses and diphtheroids. None of them however have been positively confirmed as the real culprit.


It has been a focus of debates whether Hodgkin's disease a true neoplasm or not. The largest portions of the tumor mass however according to clinical findings are composed of inflammatory cells and are considered non neoplastic. Cases of Hodgkin's Disease being positively fit in the criteria as neoplastic are very, very rare. Hodgkin's Disease, having an unknown cause makes it quite difficult to diagnose. In diagnosing for this disease, it is very important to distinguish it from other types of cancer as well as from non cancerous lymph node swellings that have been caused by an infection. A definitive diagnosis is done through lymph node biopsy.

In a positive lymph node biopsy, a specimen, under microscopic examination, would show that the lymph node architecture is partially or completely effaced by the Reed-Sternberg cells. The Reed-Sternberg cells are large sizing up from 20 micrometers to 50 micrometers. It is an amphophilic, homogenous cytoplasm with two mirror image nuclei. Each of this nuclei has a thick nuclear membrane and an eosinophilic nucleolus.
hodgkins disease
Image: Hodgkins disease


Other tests in diagnosing for Hodgkin's Disease would include blood testing to assess if the major organs are working properly and whether it would be safe to perform chemotherapy on the patient. Anemia is usually indicated for someone having Hodgkin's Disease. Another test would be PET or Positron Emission Tomography. The signs and symptoms of Hodgkin's Disease may vary from person to person. Some of the symptoms are not that noticeable or can easily be discredited as another kind of illness. The first symptom that a person may notice is the swelling of the affected lymph node. Most often than not, the swelling lymph node is located at the neck but sometimes it is also evident in the axilla as well as the inguinal-femoral area. A person may also be considered to have Hodgkin's Disease if he or she is experiencing night sweats, fever of over 38 degrees Celsius, pruritus and weight loss 6 months before the initial diagnosis.


The signs and symptoms of Hodgkin's Disease being so constitutional and common with other disease makes it very difficult to notice and detect by the affected person. Just like with other cancers, Hodgkin's Disease also undergo the process of staging. To determine the stage of Hodgkin's Disease that a particular person is suffering from, he or she will undergo a series of procedures and tests to know the extent of the spread of the disease all over the body. The procedures included in staging are physical examination, histology, radiographs, blood tests, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and Positron Emission Tomography (PET).

Using the Ann Arbor staging classification, the patient will then be classified to what stage he or she belongs to. Stage I would mean one extralymphatic site or one single lymph node is involved. Stage II would mean involvement of a contiguous extralymphatic site and one lymph node region or if two lymph node regions residing on the same side of the diaphragm are already involved. Stage III means two lymph nodes on the same side of the diaphragm and the spleen are involved. Stage IV would mean spread of the disease of a single or multitude of extralymphatic organs. The effectiveness of treating Hodgkin's Disease depend on the stage of the cancer, the location and number of lymph nodes affected, the age of the affected person, and his or her overall health status. The main purpose of the treatment of Hodgkin's Disease is to eliminate all malignant cells if possible.


The different methods in the treatment of Hodgkin's Disease include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and bone marrow transplant. These methods of treatment may be used individually or in combination.

Hodgkin's Disease is actually one of the most curable cancers having a cure rate of 93%. Of course again, the effectiveness of treatment depend on several factors which were stated above.


There is no sure fire way of preventing Hodgkin's Disease from happening because its causes are unknown. But one thing is sure though, having a good immune system to combat illnesses is one way of somehow preventing not just Hodgkin's Disease but other diseases as well. Another that could somehow prevent a person from contracting Hodgkin's Disease is to be free from the clutches of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and AIDS both of which can easily weaken a human's immune system.
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