Hodgkin's Lymphoma is a malignant disorder
of lymph tissue that occurs mostly in individuals between the ages of
15 and 35. Hodgkin's is commonly characterized by the presence of
Reed-Sternberg cells. For more information about Hodgkin's Disease and
as well as resources for patients, please visit CureHodgkins.com
Hodgkin's Disease Overview
Hodgkin's Disease, often referred to as
Hodgkin's Lymphoma, is a malignancy that starts in lymphatic tissue
and may move into other parts of the body including the testes, lung,
and bone marrow. Other lymphomas are classified as Non-Hodgkin's and
occur more frequently than Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
Hodgkin's Lymphoma is differentiated
for the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells in the area of malignancy.
This cell, and other forms of it, are specific to Hodgkin's Disease.
Because of the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells, cancer cells in
Hodgkin's disease look different under a microscope than cells of
non-Hodgkin's lymphomas and other cancers. Reed-Sternberg cells are
believed to be a form of malignant B-lymphocyte. Normal B- lymphocytes
are the cells that make antibodies that help fight infections.
The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) appears to
be a factor in about 40-50% of Hodgkin's patients. Other recent
studies also show that Interleukin-13, a natural cytokine in the body,
may be produced rapidly by malignant Hodgkin's cells. The cause of
Hodgkin's disease has not yet been found and is currently being
Hodgkin's Disease was named for Thomas
Hodgkin (1798-1866), an English scholar who is famous for his research
on the disease. The first written description of Hodgkin's Disease
came in 1666 by Malpighi, although it was in Thomas Hodgkin's
1832 article "On Some Morbid Appearances of the Absorbent Glands
and Spleen" that cases of Hodgkin's lymphoma were first well
documented. To read more about the history of Hodgkin's Disease,
please visit the timeline.
Because lymphatic tissue is present in
many parts of the body, Hodgkin's Disease can start almost anywhere.
Hodgkin's malignancies create an enlargement of the lymphatic tissue
which can then cause pressure on important structures. The cancer
cells are able to spread throughout the lymphatic tissue into other
lymphatic vessels. If it gets into the blood vessels, it can also
spread to almost any other site in the body, including the liver and
lungs, although this is less common.
Lymphatic tissue can become enlarged
for many reasons. While this may be caused by Hodgkin's Disease, it is
much more commonly a result of the body fighting an infection. For
this reason, Hodgkin's can be very hard to diagnose. There
is no benign, or non-cancerous, form of Hodgkin's disease. Hodgkin's
Disease is not contagious, like other cancers, and does not pose
a risk to others in any way.
Key Statistics for Hodgkin's Disease
from the American Cancer Society
Hodgkin's Disease is very unusual in
children under 5 years of age. For children under age 10, Hodgkin's is
more common for boys than girls. About
10% to 15% of all cases of Hodgkin's Disease are diagnosed in children
16 and under. Hodgkin's disease is most common in early adulthood (age
15-40, usually 25-30) and late adulthood (after age 55).
The American Cancer Society estimates
that in 2000 about 7,400 new cases of Hodgkin's Disease will be
diagnosed in the United States alone. Of the 7,400 new cases, 3,200
will occur in women and 4,200 in men. The Leukemia Society of America
estimates that male siblings of Hodgkin's patients are at a slightly
higher risk of developing Hodgkin's Disease, although that still
remains very rare.
It is estimated that 1,400 people will
die of Hodgkin's Disease in the United States in the year 2000. Death
rates have fallen over 60% since the early 1970s because of improved
The 1-year survival rate after
treatment according to the American Cancer Society is 93%; the 5-year
and 10-year rates are 82% and 72% respectively. At 15 years, the
overall survival rate is 63%. During the first 15 years after
treatment, the main cause of death in these patients is recurrent
Hodgkin's disease. Death due to causes other than Hodgkin's Disease
15-20 years after therapy is most common.