Hodgkin’s disease, also known as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is a type of cancer that originates in the body’s white blood cells. Hodgkin’s disease is treatable with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or even hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, depending on the age and sex of the patient, as well as the stage of the disease. The overall survival rate for Hodgkin’s disease in the United States in 85%.
Hodgkin’s disease is named after Thomas Hodgkin, who first described abnormalities in the lymph system in 1832. Generally, Hodgkin’s disease occurs during one of two phases in life, either in young adulthood (between 15 and 35) or in those over 55. The most common symptom of Hodgkin’s disease is a painless enlargement of the lymph nodes, mostly in the neck and shoulders.
Diagnosis is made through lymph node biopsy, followed by blood tests to determine the safety for performing chemotherapy. Patients diagnosed early, in stage IA or IIA can be effectively treated with either chemo or radiation therapy. Localized radiation following chemotherapy has proven to be highly effective in combating Hodgkin’s disease. Hockey great Mario Lemieux is one of the most famous cases of a Hodgkin’s survivor, returning to professional sports following his successful treatment. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and actor Michael C. Hall (Dexter) also overcame the disease.