Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. Malignant Reed Sternberg cells invade and destroy the architecture of the lymph nodes and infiltrate major organs such as the liver and spleen in more advanced cases (Stages III and IV). Treatment options for Hodgkins Lymphoma are chemotherapy, radiotherapy or chemotherapy plus radiotherapy. More difficult cases may require high dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant. In addition to the stage of the disease other factors such as age, general health and location of the disease are considered important in treatment decisions. In recent years PET/CT scans have been helpful in determining the extent of Hodgkins disease and assessing how well treatment is working. In some patients Hodgkins may never go away completely and regular treatments are required to control the disease while others experience relapses. Nowadays chemotherapy plus radiotherapy to involved areas is considered as standard treatment for patients with early stage Hodgkins Lymphoma (Stages I and II) and the incidence of survival in the U.S. after 5-years is about 90%. The 5-year survival rate for stage III patients is about 80% while it is 65% for stage IV patients. Due to long term adverse effects such as secondary malignancies causing both morbidity and mortality, the role of radiotherapy has been questioned and other means of treatment are being sought.
More than 9,000 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the United States each year. It occurs mainly in individuals between 16 and 34 years of age and those over age 55.