Facts About Hodgkin's Lymphoma

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Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. It affects the B-lymphocytes. Although first described in 1666, the disease gets its name from a Quaker physician named Thomas Hodgkin.

The National Cancer Institute's Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results statistics indicate that about 9,000 people will be diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma this year in the United States. Slightly more of those diagnoses will be made in men than women. Furthermore, as many as 1,200 people are expected to die from the disease this year.

Hodgkin's vs. non-Hodgkin's

The primary difference between Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is what are called Reed-Sternberg cells, but these cells can only be found following a biopsy. More importantly, Hodgkin's lymphoma tends to make patients symptomatic and seek out a physician consult, leading to earlier detection of the disease and subsequently higher rates of cure than many other cancer types.

Incidence

The median age at diagnosis for Hodgkin's lymphoma is 38 years.

  • About 12.8% are diagnosed under age 20
  • About 31.4% are diagnosed between 20 and 34
  • About 15.3% are diagnosed between 35 and 44
  • About 12.5% are diagnosed between 45 and 54
  • About 10.1% are diagnosed between 55 and 64
  • About 8.8% are diagnosed between 65 and 74
  • About 6.8% are diagnosed between 75 and 84
  • About 2.2% are diagnosed over 85 years of age

Mortality

The median age at death for Hodgkin's lymphoma is 64 years.

  • About 1.6% die under age 20
  • About 12.9% die between 20 and 34
  • About 10.5% die between 35 and 44
  • About 11.8% die between 45 and 54
  • About 14.5% die between 55 and 64
  • About 16.4% die between 65 and 74
  • About 22.3% die between 75 and 84
  • About 10.0% die over 85 years of age

Survival and Stage

The 5-year relative survival rate of patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma in terms of when the disease is found and when treatment begins are as follows.

  • Localized disease: 90%
  • Regional disease: 91%
  • Metastatic or advanced disease: 75.7%

As is made very clear from these rates, Hodgkin's lymphoma is a highly treatable and often curable cancer.

Symptoms

The most commonly reported symptoms of Hodgkin's include the following:

  • A painless swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin
  • Unexplained recurrent fevers
  • Night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Appetite loss
  • Itchy skin (pruritus)

Treatment

The most commonly prescribed treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma is a chemotherapy regimen referred to as ABVD, along with radiation therapy. Treatment can last six months or more.

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