Hodgkin Lymphoma Cancer

Lymphoma is a type of cancer which affects the lymphatic cells; these are a type of white blood cell, and can be further divided into B-cells, T-cells and Natural Killer (NK) cells - where the former two are belong to the group'small lymphocytes' while NK are considered as large ditto. Lymphocytes play a key role in the immune system of vertebrate animals, a grouping which includes humans. Hodgkin's Lymphoma cancer was first described in 1832 by the man who it is named after, Thomas Hodgkin.

Types of Hodgkin's Lymphoma Cancer

Hodgkin's Lymphoma can be further divided into four sub-groups according to the Reed-Sternberg cell morphology. In reverse order of commonality, these are:

  • Lymphocyte depleted
  • Lymphocyte rich/predominant
  • Diverse cellularity subtype
  • Nodular sclerosing

While classifications of Lymphoma have historically included Hodgkin's as sub-group of its own, and the most recent classification released by the World Health Organisation in 2008 still does, it is widely recognised that Hodgkin's Lymphoma could be placed under the B-cell malignancy grouping.

UK Hodgkin's Lymphoma Statistics

The most recent figures published by Cancer Research UK show that 1,673 people were affected by Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2007 – this represents a mere <1% of all diagnosed cancer in that year. They also show that the five-year survival rate of those diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma between 1996-1999 was 80%, while it is predicted that some 78% of patients diagnoses with the disease in 2007 will survive for at least 10 years – this is compared to a much lower 49% recorded in the 1970's.

The incidence rate is slightly higher for males than females, and is peaks around the age group of 30-45 and again at 65+. Female rates are only marginally higher between the ages of 15-24, at which point the rate falls quite dramatically while the male rate increases steadily through until peaking at 35-40.

Symptoms of Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Symptoms of Hodgkin's Lymphoma can be difficult to spot, and testing is required in order to ensure a correct diagnosis. This will commonly include lymph node biopsy, blood tests. There are a few symptoms that may present themselves however, though not all sufferers will present them, and these include:

  • Dramatic and unexpected weight loss of >10% of your total body weight
  • Heavy nocturnal sweating
  • Itchy skin
  • Painless enlargement of lymph nodes
  • Pain in lymph nodes in combination with the consumption of alcohol
  • Fatigue
  • Seemingly random fevers

This is not an exhaustive list of symptoms that have been associated with Hodgkin's Lymphoma cancer, but it does cover the most commonly reported symptoms. Some of these are more common than others, though many sufferers will only display few if any of these symptoms. Suffering from any of the above in isolation is no cause for alarm and may be completely unrelated to Hodgkin's Lymphoma cancer, and several could simply be the sign of a minor infection such as the common cold, or simply exhaustion, nervousness or a range of other ailments. The only way to diagnose Hodgkin's Lymphoma accurately is to consult your GP.

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