Lymphoma or lymphatic cancer is a very serious and life threatening disease. In this country there is an estimated 63,900 new cases, 7,100 of which are Hodgkin’s lymphoma as opposed to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Since around the 70’s the occurrence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has almost doubled while the occurrence of Hodgkin’s disease has declined. (Steen, 1993)
Lymphoma is the name given to a cancer that infects the lymphatic system. In a case of lymphoma the lymphatic system has cells that multiply and cannot be stopped. There are two main types of lymphoma, Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is called lymphoma and Hodgkin’s type lymphoma is called Hodgkin’s disease. Hodgkin’s disease is different from non-Hodgkin’s disease in that Hodgkin’s disease has a Reed-Sternberg cell present in the areas infected with the cancer. Hodgkin’s disease occurs mainly in people between 15 and 40 or over 55. Non-Hodgkin’s type cancer is much more common than Hodgkin’s disease. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a group of over 29 types of lymphoma. These are classified by the US National Cancer society as aggressive or fast multiplying or indolent, slow multiplying. (Lymphoma Information Network)
The lymphatic system protects the body from agents that could cause disease like bacteria or viruses. Within this system, that consists of organs such as the spleen and tonsils, there are organs that destroy foreign agents, those organs are called lymph nodes. The lymphatic system works as follows; the bone marrow produces blood cells including white blood cells. White blood cells are the cells that find and destroy disease-causing agents. Both B and T cells change a great deal to defend the body from pathogen. It is while the B cells are transforming that cancers can infect them. (Lymphoma Information Network)
What causes Hodgkin’s disease is not known, but the symptoms are well known and somewhat easy to detect. One’s lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or chest begin to swell. The swelling should be painless to touch, not sore or tender, if it were sore it would most probably be caused by an infection of the lymph nodes. To diagnose Hodgkin’s is a relatively simple procedure, it determines whether or not one has Hodgkin’s disease and what stage the disease is in. If the lymph nodes in the armpit or neck are enflamed then the procedure is simple, however if it is only the nodes in the chest a mediastinoscopy or a less common thoracotomy is required. This involves opening the chest, or in the case of thoracotomy the neck, so that the entire lymph may be taken out. To test the stage of the disease the following tests are available depending on preference and...