A malignant disease of the lymphatic system. When affected by this cancer, the lymph nodes---which are present in many parts
of the body and play an important role in immunity---enlarge, sometimes to the point where they cause pressure on adjacent
structures. The cancer cells
also may invade the spleen and liver and cause them to enlarge. The disease is not painful in the early
stages, although there is fever, weight loss, malaise
(a general feeling of being unwell), anemia, and sometimes itching of the skin.
affects two men for every woman and is seen most often between
the ages of 15 and 35 and after
the age of 50. Why the whole lymphatic
system is affected by malignant growth is unknown. A viral cause for Hodgkin's disease has been suspected but not proved.
The nodes in the neck, groin, and armpit first draw attention
to the condition, usually
because they do not settle after an infection
in the normal way. Chest X-ray studies show lymph node enlargement in the chest; superficial lymph
nodes feel tense and rubbery as they grow over a period of weeks and become matted
is treated with radiation
and chemotherapy; newer combinations
of anticancer drugs are being tried constantly with increasing success. Most patients
can now be cured. For localized Hodgkin's disease, radiation is the treatment
of choice. Combination chemotherapy
is used for more advanced disease. The prognosis
is good, even for persons with advanced Hodgkin's disease.