Hodgkins Lymphoma - Medical Malpractice Lawyers

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Hodgkins Lymphoma - Medical Malpractice

Hodgkin's lymphoma is a specific type of cancer of the lymphatic tissue that affects the lymph nodes, the liver, the spleen, the bone marrow and other body areas. Many people with the disease have as their first sign an enlarged lymph node that is hard to the touch and has no known infection associated with it. More and more lymph nodes in the area become enlarged and it spreads to other body areas.

No one knows what causes Hodgkin's lymphoma. It appears to be most common between the ages of 15 and 35 with another spike in the disease at age 50 to 70. Some doctors believe that a person has to be infected with the Epstein-Barr virus in order to get Hodgkin's lymphoma so there is a relationship but it still isn't clear what the relationship is.

Symptoms of Hodgkin's lymphoma include tiredness, intermittent fever and chills, total body itching of no known cause, soaking night sweats, loss of appetite, swollen glands of the groin, neck or armpits and unexplained weight loss. Some patients can develop a cough or breathing difficulty if the chest lymph nodes are affected, excessive sweating, increased pain in the lymph nodes with drinking alcohol, feeling full in the spleen or liver area and flushing of the skin.

With these symptoms, you need to seek medical attention. The doctor will evaluate the lymph nodes affected and biopsy at least one of them to see if the problem looks like Hodgkin's lymphoma under the microscope. A bone marrow biopsy can help determine if the disease has spread to the bone marrow. CT scans of the chest can show chest involvement and CT scans of the abdomen can show liver or spleen enlargement as well as lymph node involvement below the level of the diaphragm. Blood chemistry tests will show liver problems, kidney problems and an elevation in uric acid level. A PET scan can show areas of increased activity consistent with Hodgkin's disease. Some patients need to see a surgeon for a laparotomy to find any spleen, lymph node or liver involvement.

The treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma depends on the type of lymphoma (most have classic Hodgkin's disease), the stage of the disease, the size of the tumor, the patient's age, other medical issues and symptoms the patient has.

Stages of Hodgkin's disease includes stage I disease, in which only one lymph node region is involved; stage II disease, in which two lymph node regions are involved on the same side of the diaphragm; stage III disease, in which there are lymph nodes involved on both sides of the diaphragm; and stage IV disease, in which there is spread of cancer beyond the lymph nodes to lungs, liver, or bone marrow.

Stage I and II disease are both limited forms of the disease and respond well to chemotherapy and radiation therapy or perhaps both. Stage III disease is always treated with chemotherapy plus or minus radiation therapy to the affected areas. Stage IV disease is usually treated just with chemotherapy and not with radiation therapy. If the disease doesn't respond to regular chemotherapy the first time, then high dose chemotherapy is used along with a stem cell transplant. An autologous stem cell transplant is often used, which relies on using your own healthy stem cells and giving them back to bone marrow that has been destroyed with high dose chemotherapy.

People with Hodgkin's lymphoma often need transfusion of platelets, white blood cells or red blood cells in case the numbers of these cells are diminished. Antibiotics might be necessary in order to kill off infection, which is very common in patients with Hodgkin's disease.

Hodgkin's disease is one of the most curable types of cancer, particularly if it is caught early. About 90 percent of patients with stage I or stage II cancer survive past ten years. If the disease is more advanced than that, the five year survival rate is about 90 percent but less at 10 years. If a person survives past fifteen years, they are considered recovered from Hodgkin's disease and are more likely to die from something other than Hodgkin's disease.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here