What is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?The lymph system is part of the immune system, which helps fight infections and control the flow of some fluids throughout the body. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a rare type of cancer that originates in white blood cells in the lymph system. These cells are called lymphocytes. Since lymph tissue is located throughout the body, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma can start in a number of places, making it particularly difficult to diagnose. In the United States, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma affects approximately 0.2% of the population. This makes it a rare cancer. Around half of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cases are directly associated with Epstein–Barr virus, which is the most common cause of glandular fever. This means that if you have had glandular fever before, you may be at a higher risk of contracting Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Symptoms of Hodgkin’s LymphomaWhen Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is diagnosed early, it is highly treatable. This is because doctors are able to reduce the spread of the cancer and prevent it from occurring throughout the body. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you see a doctor if you think you are experiencing symptoms. Since every case of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is different, symptoms will often vary. However, there are some common symptoms that are associated with the illness:
- Lumps under the skin – The most common symptoms associated with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is one or more lumps underneath your skin. Common places for these to appear include the neck, arms, legs, groin or other parts on the body. These lumps will usually be painless but will develop in size over time.
- Fever – An increased body temperature is often associated with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This fever can come and go over time.
- Fatigue – Extreme tiredness can be caused by Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. You may also have difficulty sleeping and night sweats.
- Loss of appetite – A decreased appetite can be caused by Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This will often be accompanied by irregular weight loss.
Causes and Risk Factors for Hodgkin’s LymphomaThere are several different things that can increase the risk of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma occurring. These include:
- Glandular fever – Epstein Barr virus (EBV) is the virus that causes glandular fever. If you have had glandular fever in the past, you are more likely to contract Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. In fact, this cause accounts for almost half of the disease’s cases.
- Age of around 25 – Although it can happen at any age, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma occurs most commonly in people around the age of 25.
- Lower immunity – If your immune system is not working properly, you will be at a higher risk of developing Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This means that if you suffer from HIV or AIDS, are are taking medication to prevent organ rejection or are born with an immune disorder, you are at a higher risk.
- Family history – If you have a first-degree relative (parent, child or sibling) who has Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, you may be at a higher risk. Experts remain unsure if the disease is passed through genes or caused by similar lifestyle habits.
Treatment options for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma:There are several different treatment options available for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. These treatment options aim to stop thr growth of cancer cells, preventing the cancer from spreading and causing harm to your body. Each treatment has its own side-effects and possible complications. For this reason, it is important to review all treatment options with your doctor. Below are some of the most common treatment options for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma:
Radiation therapyRadiation therapy is one of the most common treatments for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It uses high energy rays similar to x-rays to target and destroy cancer cells. In most cases, patients have the treatment from an external radiotherapy machine. This is commonly referred to as external beam therapy. Although radiation therapy is effective at removing cancer, it is not without side effects of its own. Common side effects of radiation therapy include:
- Irritated or red skin
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea
- Loss of hair around the targeted area
ChemotherapyChemotherapy is the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells. The type of drugs used depends on the type of cancer and its symptoms. Sometimes, chemotherapy is administered intravenously (through a drop) whereas in other cases, patients are prescribed chemotherapy medication which they take orally. A course of chemotherapy is made up of several cycles. Firstly, you have treatment, which is usually over 1 to 3 days. Afterwards, you have a break for a few weeks so that your body can recover from the effects of chemotherapy. There are several side effects associated with chemotherapy. These include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of weight and appetite
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Extreme fatigue
- Lower resistance to infection
- Hair loss