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What Is Hodgkins Disease? Essay

1323 words - 5 pages

What is Hodgkin's disease?Hodgkin's disease is a type of lymphoma. Lymphomas are cancers that develop in the lymphatic system, a part of the body's immune system. The job of the lymphatic system is to help fight diseases and infection.The lymphatic system includes a network of thin tubes that branch, like blood vessels, into the tissues throughout the body. Lymphatic vessels carry lymph, a colorless, watery fluid that contains infection-fighting cells called lymphocytes. Along this network of vessels are groups of small, bean-shaped organs called lymph nodes that filter the lymph as it passes through the nodes. Clusters of lymph nodes are found in the underarm, groin, neck, and abdomen. Other parts of the lymphatic system are the spleen, thymus, tonsils, and bone marrow.Like all types of cancer, Hodgkin's disease affects the body's cells. Healthy cells grow, divide, and replace themselves in an orderly manner. This process keeps the body in good repair. In Hodgkin's disease, cells in the lymphatic system grow abnormally and can spread to other organs. As the disease progresses, the body is less able to fight infection.The most common symptom of Hodgkin's disease is a painless swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin. Other symptoms may include fevers, night sweats, tiredness, weight loss, or itching skin. However, these symptoms are not sure signs of cancer. They may also be caused by many common illnesses, such as the flu or other infections. But it is important to see a doctor if any of these symptoms lasts longer than 2 weeks. Any illness should be diagnosed and treated as early as possible, and this is especially true of Hodgkin's disease.If Hodgkin's disease is suspected, the doctor will ask about the patient's medical history and diagnose them by performing a thorough physical exam. Blood tests and x-rays of the chest, bones, liver, and spleen will also be done. Tissue from an enlarged lymph node will be removed. This is known as a biopsy and is the only sure way to tell if cancer is present. A pathologist will look at the tissue under the microscope for Reed-Sternberg cells, abnormal cells that are usually found with Hodgkin's disease.When Hodgkin's disease is diagnosed, the doctor needs to know the stage, or extent, of the disease. Knowing the stage is very important for planning treatment. The stage indicates where the disease has spread and how much tissue is affected. In staging, the following are checked: The number and location of affected lymph nodes; whether the affected lymph nodes are above, below, or on both sides of the diaphragm (the thin muscle under the lungs and heart that separates the chest from the abdomen); and whether the disease has spread to the bone marrow, to the spleen, or to places outside the lymphatic system, such as the liver. In staging, the doctor usually order several tests, including biopsies of the lymph nodes, liver, and bone marrow. Many patients have lymph angiograms, x-rays of the...

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