If you just found out you have Hodgkin’s disease, you probably want to know more about it. Just knowing you have a type of cancer can be overwhelming and scary enough, but not knowing anything about it can sometimes make it worse. So, here goes:
How Do You Know It’s Hodgkin’s?
Your Hodgkin’s disease was caused by an unknown trigger that causes an abnormal growth of cells in your lymph system. It can show up in enlarged lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, or chest and is usually not painful. A special cell, called a Reed-Sternberg cell, was identified during your diagnosis.
A Few Facts…
A few statistics and characteristics may help you put your disease in perspective. Hodgkin’s disease accounts for 16% of all teen cancers.
It usually occurs during the teen years and is more likely to affect guys than girls. We know that the virus causing “mono” (mononucleosis) has been associated with Hodgkin’s disease. However, most kids who have “mono” will not develop Hodgkin’s disease, so that relationship is unclear.
What Do Stages Mean?
You may have heard that your disease has stages based on the spread of the disease.
Limited to a single lymph node region.
Limited to one side of the diaphragm (the breathing muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen).
Involves lymph nodes on both sides of the diaphragm.
Widespread disease found not only in the lymph tissue but also in the lungs, liver, bone marrow, skin or central nervous system.
Knowing the extent of your disease will help the doctors decide what treatment is best. If your disease involves just one part of your lymph system, you may be treated with radiation only. However, if your disease is more extensive, involving more than one part of your lymph system or spreading outside the lymph system, you might also get chemotherapy.
The Bottom Line…
Many chemotherapy drugs are effective for treating Hodgkin’s. This makes the outlook for a cure very good. Currently, greater than ninety percent of kids treated for Hodgkin’s disease survive.