Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Treating Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Hopkins lymphoma is a type of lymphoma, which is a cancer originating from white blood cells called B-lymphocytes. It can affect anyone of any age, but it most commonly affects young adults (age 15–35) and those over 55 years old. This also known as Hodgkin’s lymphoma or Hodgkin’s disease, named after Thomas Hodgkin, who first described abnormalities in the lymph system in 1832. Hopkins lymphoma is characterized by the orderly spread of disease from one lymph node group to another and by the development of systemic symptoms with advanced disease. When Hodgkins cells are examined microscopically, multinucleated Reed-Sternberg cells (RS cells) are the characteristic histopathology finding.

There are 2 type of lymphoma, Hopkins/Hodgkin’s and non- Hodgkins lymphoma. Most lymphomas are non-Hodgkin lymphoma and only about 1 in 5 cases are Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It’s important to know exactly what type of lymphoma you have. This is because the treatments and outlook (prognosis) can vary greatly for different types of lymphoma. The most common symptom of hopkins lymphoma is one or more painless swellings in the neck, armpit or groin. These swellings are enlarged lymph nodes. About 7 out of 10 people diagnosed have a swollen lymph node in their neck. Usually it doesn’t hurt, but some people say their lumps ache. A much enlarged node in the neck can give you a stiff neck. About 1 in 4 people have other more general symptoms. These are called ‘B symptoms’. They can include heavy sweating (especially at night), temperatures that come and go, and losing a lot of weight. Some people have itching, which may be worse after drinking alcohol. If the lymphoma affects lymph nodes in the chest or lungs it can cause a cough or breathlessness.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma may be treated with radiation therapy, chemotherapy or hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, the choice of treatment depending on the age and sex of the patient and the stage, bulk and histological subtype of the disease. Chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma uses combinations of different anti-cancer drugs rather than just one drug. This reduces the chances of the patient developing resistance to any one of the drugs. It also reduces the side effects because lower doses of individual drugs are used. The drug combination most widely used is called ABVD (adriamycin, bleomycin, vinblastine and dacarbazine) while ChlVPP (chlorambucil, vinblastine, procarbazine and prednisone) and BEACOPP (bleomycin, etoposide, Adriamycin, cyclophosphamide, Oncovin, procarbazine and prednisolone) may also be used to treat hopkins lymphoma.

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