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10/15/2008 11:07 AM

Information on Hodgkins

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Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of lymphoma distinguished by the presence of a particular kind of cancer cell called a Reed-Sternberg cell.


The cause is unknown.


Lymph nodes enlarge but are not painful.


Other symptoms, such as muscle weakness, fever, and shortness of breath, develop depending on where the cancer cells are growing.


A lymph node biopsy is needed for diagnosis.


Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are used for treatment.


Most people are cured.

In the United States, about 8,000 new cases of Hodgkin lymphoma occur every year. The disease is more common in males than in females—about three men are affected for every two women. Hodgkin lymphoma rarely occurs before age 10. It is most common in people between the ages of 15 and 40 and in people older than 50.

The cause of Hodgkin lymphoma is unknown. There is strong evidence that, in some people, Epstein-Barr virus infection causes B lymphocytes to become cancerous and transform into Reed-Sternberg cells. Although there are some families in which more than one person has Hodgkin lymphoma, it is not contagious.


People with Hodgkin lymphoma usually become aware of one or more enlarged lymph nodes, most often in the neck but sometimes in the armpit or groin. Although usually painless, sometimes the enlarged lymph nodes may be painful for a few hours after a person drinks alcoholic beverages.

People with Hodgkin lymphoma sometimes experience fever, night sweats, and weight loss. They can also have itching and fatigue. Some people have Pel-Ebstein fever, an unusual pattern of high temperature for several days alternating with normal or below-normal temperature for days or weeks. Other symptoms may develop, depending on where the cancerous cells are growing. For example, enlargement of lymph nodes in the chest may partially narrow and irritate airways, resulting in a cough, chest discomfort, or shortness of breath. Enlargement of the spleen or lymph nodes in the abdomen may cause discomfort in the abdomen.


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