Hodgkin Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma - Medical Negligence Solicitors

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Hodgkin Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Any doctor faced with a patient who has swollen lymph nodes needs to consider the possibility that these swollen lymph nodes represent either Hodgkin lymphoma or non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Hodgkin lymphoma is a lymph cancer that affects lymph nodes, liver, spleen, bone marrow, and other sites in the body.

The causes of Hodgkin lymphoma are unclear; however, it has been linked to Epstein-Barr infection. It is common in ages 15-35 years and 50-70 years. HIV infected people have a higher risk of getting Hodgkin Lymphoma.

The symptoms of Hodgkin Lymphoma include:

  • Tiredness
  • Fever and chills
  • Body itching of unknown etiology
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes in the axillary, neck and groin areas
  • Soaking night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss

Less common side effects include chest pain, cough and difficulty breathing, excessive sweating, pain in lymph nodes after drinking alcohol, feeling of fullness below the rib cage, and flushed skin.

The first sign of the disease is often a swollen lymph node without a cause. Later, it spreads to other lymph nodes and to spleen, bone marrow, the liver and other tissues. A lymph node is biopsied to give the diagnosis of Hodgkin Lymphoma. The doctor will follow up the biopsy with a blood chemistry tests, CT scan of the chest, bone marrow biopsy, complete blood count and a PET scan.

Treatment of Hodgkin Lymphoma depends on the type of the disease, the stage, if the tumour is more than 4 inches wide, your age and level of health, and if you have night sweats, weight loss or fever.

Treatment involves chemotherapy, radiotherapy or both. Some people have their bone marrow killed off and a stem cell transplant is given to replace all the cells of the system.

In non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, the lymph nodes are involved as in Hodgkin Lymphoma but rather than being one disease, it involves many different related diseases. A B cell type or a T cell type mutates and grows out of control and spreads to other body areas. If you have poor immune system or frequent infections, you have a higher risk of getting non-Hodgkin disease.

The disease spreads through the lymph system to the lymph nodes, spleen, and other organs of the lymph system. Most non-Hodgkin lymphoma begins as an abnormal B lymphocyte. Most of the time the cause is unknown but people with poor immune systems or HIV infection have a higher risk. Those who have had an organ transplant are at greater risk as well. Men are at greater risk than women and adults have a greater risk than children.

There are many types of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. They can be grouped according to grade or how fast the disease spreads: low grade, intermediate grade and high grade. They can also be organized by how they look under the microscope and the origin of the damaged cells.

To diagnose the disease, the doctor performs a physical examination and checks common areas for lymph nodes. A lymph node biopsy can be performed on an enlarged lymph node. Other tests include a chemistry panel, a CBC, a CT scan of the chest, abdomen and pelvis, a Gallium scan and a PET scan. The disease will then be staged to see how advanced it is.

Treatment includes chemotherapy, radiotherapy or both. It all depends on the stage of the cancer, the type of lymphoma, your overall health and your age. Radio immunotherapy is used by linking a radioactive chemical to an antibody that targets the cancerous cells. In other cases, the bone marrow is treated with high dose chemo and stem cell transplant is given to create a whole new set of white blood cells that are not cancerous.

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