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Hodgkin's disease - Hodgkin's lymphoma
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Hodgkin's disease - Hodgkin's lymphoma

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Screening and diagnosis

Many people with Hodgkin's disease experience no classic symptoms. Often, an abnormality found on a chest X-ray done for nonspecific symptoms leads to an eventual diagnosis of Hodgkin's disease.

Because the symptoms of Hodgkin's are similar to those of other disorders, such as influenza, the disease can be difficult to diagnose.

Some distinctive characteristics help diagnose Hodgkin's disease, and these include:

  • The pattern of spread is orderly, progressing from one group of lymph nodes to the next.

  • The disease rarely skips over an area of lymph nodes as it spreads.

A tissue sample (biopsy) of an enlarged lymph node is needed to make the diagnosis. The pathologist looks for changes in the normal lymph node architecture and cell characteristics, including the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells. The affected lymph nodes may contain only a few of these malignant cells. Diagnosing Hodgkin's disease can be difficult because it's possible to mistake other cells for Reed-Sternberg cells.

Other procedures that may be valuable in evaluating Hodgkin's disease include X-ray, computerized tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) scan, bone marrow biopsy and blood tests. If the disease is predominantly in your abdomen, you may need exploratory surgery to help define the extent of the disease.

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, doctors need to "stage" the disease. Staging is how doctors judge the extent of the disease, which will likely affect your treatment options.

  • Stage I. The cancer is limited to one lymph node region.

  • Stage II. In this stage, the cancer is in two different lymph node regions, but is limited to a section of the body either above or below the diaphragm.

  • Stage III. When the cancer moves to both above and below the diaphragm, but hasn't spread to other organs, it's considered stage III.

  • Stage IV. This is the most advanced stage of Hodgkin's disease. Stage IV Hodgkin's disease affects not only the lymph nodes, but also other parts of your body, such as the bone marrow or your liver.

Hodgkin's disease - Hodgkin's lymphoma > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4


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Last Modified : 03/14/08 11:34 PM