Hodgkin's disease, disease of unknown origin characterized by enlargement of the lymph glands. Many authorities, including American Cancer Society, consider it to be a form of cancer while others argue that an infection is responsible.
Hodgkin's disease which also known as Hodgkin lymphoma, was named after Thomas Hodgkin, an English physician, in 1832. Thomas Hodgkin was considered to be one of the most prominent pathologists of his time, and a pioneer in preventive medicine.
Manifestations of The Hodgkin's Disease
The disease attacks males more frequently than females, and may appear at any age, young adults are often affected. The lymph glands of the neck are usually involved first, undergoing a painless enlargement.
Later the lymph glands under the arms, in the groin, in the chest, and abdomen enlarge. General symptoms include loss of appetite and weight, fatigue, night sweats, intermittent fever, and anemia.
Enlargement of the lymph nodes in the chest with pressure on the surrounding tissues may produce cough, difficulty in breathing, and chest pain.
Expansion of the lymph nodes which lie on the rear wall of the abdomen may compress the contents of the abdomen, displacing one or both kidneys. Other manifestations of the disease may be found in the lungs, bones, nervous system, and skin.
The spleen and liver are often enlarged. In some patients, itching may be the major complaint. A curious unexplained phenomenon in Hodgkin's disease is the appearance of pain, in the involved areas following consumption of alcohol.
The disease may be treated with radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. The choice of treatment depending on the age and sex of the patient, the stage, and histological subtype of the disease.
X-ray (radiation) therapy is the preferred treatment, and may relieve symptoms for weeks, months, or years. Nitrogen mustard has also proved useful. Although these and other methods of treatment may temporarily improve the patient's condition, they do not cure the disease. Despite this, some patients with Hodgkin's disease may survive for as long as twenty years.
Hodgkin's Disease by Irving Solomon, M.D.
Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, Mount Sinai Medicine School, New York.