The lymphatic system is a network of thin tubular vessels that branches out to almost all parts of the body. Scattered in between these vessels are lymph nodes. The job of the lymphatic system is to fight infection and disease. Cancer of the lymphatic system is called lymphoma. Hodgkins is one of two main types of lymphoma with non-Hodgkins being the other.
The cause of Hodgkins lymphoma is unknown. However, doctors believe immune system problems as well as age may increase a person’s chance of developing this disease.
The signs and symptoms of lymphoma are not specific and may also be associated with other, noncancerous conditions. Talk to your doctor if you have any of these problems.
To see if you have Hodgkins lymphoma, your doctor will first examine you to assess your overall health and look for anything unusual. He or she may also perform some or all of the following tests.
The doctor will order blood tests to evaluate a variety of factors, including the number of blood cells in your blood and how well your liver and kidneys are working.
During a lymph node biopsy, your doctor will perform surgery to take out a lymph node. It will then be examined under a microscope to look for cancer.
Several imaging tests will be performed to see if lymphoma has spread to other organs. These tests may include CT, PET or gallium scans.
The stage of cancer is a term used to describe its size and whether it has spread.
Knowing this helps doctors plan the best treatment.
Stage I: Single lymph node or non-lymph node region is affected.
Stage II: Two or more lymph node or non-lymph node regions are affected on the same side of the diaphragm (the muscle under the lungs).
Stage III: Lymph node or non-lymph node regions above and below the diaphragm are affected.
Stage IV: The cancer has spread outside the lymph nodes to organs such as the liver, bones or lungs. Stage IV can also refer to a tumor in another organ and/or tumors in distant lymph nodes.
Treatment options depend on the type of lymphoma, its stage and your overall health. Treatment may include chemotherapy or radiation therapy, either alone or in combination. It may help to talk to several cancer specialists before deciding on the best course of treatment for you, your cancer and your lifestyle
Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, is the careful use of radiation to safely and effectively kill cancer cells while avoiding nearby healthy tissue.
External beam radiation therapy is a series of outpatient treatments to accurately deliver radiation to the cancer cells. Radiation therapy has been proven to be very successful at treating and curing Hodgkins lymphoma.
The side effects you may experience will depend on the part of the body being treated, the dose of radiation given and if you also receive chemotherapy. Ask your doctor before treatment begins about possible side effects, and how best to manage them.