Hodgkin’s disease

An uncommon, cancerous disorder in which there is a proliferation of cells in the lymphoid tissue (found mainly in the lymph nodes and spleen). Men are affected more than women. The cause is unknown. The most common sign is the painless enlargement of lymph nodes, typically in the neck or armpits. There may be a general feeling of illness, with fever, weight loss, and night sweats. There may also be generalized itching. As the disease progresses, the immune system becomes increasingly impaired and lifethreatening complications may result from normally trivial infections. Diagnosis of Hodgkin’s disease depends on the identification of characteristic cells in a biopsy of affected tissue. The extent of the disease (its stage) can be assessed by chest X-ray, CT scanning or MRI of the abdomen, a bone marrow biopsy and a liver biopsy. If the disease is localized to a small area, radiotherapy is usually curative. If the disease has spread to involve many organs, long-term treatment with anticancer drugs is needed. (See also lymphoma, non-Hodgkin’s.)


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