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Hodgkins Disease

What is Hodgkin disease?

Hodgkin disease is a type of lymphoma, a cancer in the lymphatic system. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2009 about 8,510 new cases will be diagnosed. About 10 percent to 15 percent of cases are found in children 16 years old and teenagers.

Hodgkin disease causes the cells in the lymphatic system to abnormally reproduce, eventually making the body less able to fight infection. Hodgkin disease cells can also spread to other organs.

How is Hodgkin disease diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for Hodgkin disease may include the following:

  • blood tests
  • x-ray of the chest – a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
  • computed tomography (Also called a CT or CAT scan.) – a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than standard x-rays.
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body
  • positron emission tomography (PET) scan – a type of nuclear medicine procedure. This means that a tiny amount of a radioactive substance, called a radionuclide (radiopharmaceutical or radioactive tracer), is used during the procedure to assist in the examination of the tissue under study. Specifically, PET studies evaluate the metabolism of a particular organ or tissue, so that information about the physiology (functionality) and anatomy (structure) of the organ or tissue is evaluated, as well as its biochemical properties. Thus, PET may detect biochemical changes in an organ or tissue that can identify the onset of a disease process before anatomical changes related to the disease can be seen with other imaging processes such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • lymph node biopsy – a procedure performed to remove tissue or cells from the body for examination under a microscope.
Treatment for Hodgkin disease:

Specific treatment for Hodgkin disease will be determined by your physician based on:

  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the disease
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the disease
  • your opinion or preference