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 researched.

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 treatment.

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.

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