How long will someone who is not receiving treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma will live?

How long someone not receiving treatment for Hodgkins Lymphoma will live?
How long someone not receiving treatment for Hodgkins Lymphoma will live?

What is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is the name given to the cancer of the lymphatic system, more specifically the lymphocytes. The most important risk factor of this type of cancer is a virus known as “Epstein-Barr Virus”. This virus usually attacks immunocompromised patients such as those suffering from HIV-AIDS or other immune-related disorders. Apart from the viral cause, it occurs in patients with the family history of the disease.

It is a rare disease. Less than a million people get it in a year. The Hodgkin’s lymphoma presents itself as an abnormal proliferation of the white blood cells in the lymphoid tissue mainly the spleen, lymph nodes, thymus etc. Thus, the main manifestation of the disease is swollen lymph nodes. The patient may also have an enlarged spleen or liver. Other common associated symptoms include weakness and fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss, fever and chills etc.

The infection-fighting capability of the lymphocytes is lost as a result the patient becomes more prone to common infections.

What are the types of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

The lymphocytes in our body undergo various stages of development to reach its mature stage. Depending upon which stage of development is affected there are various types of HL that are seen in human beings.

  • Classic Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

  • Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma

There is one basic difference between a Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. That is the presence of a special type of cell in Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: “Reed-Sternberg Cell”. This is a type of abnormal B-cell.

How is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosed?

Diagnosis of a disease is important as it plays a key role in determining the appropriate treatment. There are variety of techniques which are used to confirm the diagnosis of a Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After the appropriate diagnosis, the treatment is planned.

Various diagnostic tests include:

  • A physical exam to palpate the lymph nodes of the neck, armpits, and groin.
  • Bone marrow biopsy to look into the morphology of the marrow cells under the microscope.
  • Complete blood counts
  • Lymph node biopsy to determine the spread and stage of the cancer
  • Imaging tests such as CT scan, PET scan, and MRI

How is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma treated?

The treatment depends upon the age of the patient, his/her physical health and the stage and spread of cancer. Considering all these factors the prognosis of the treatment of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is determined.

The treatment plan involves a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals which include general physicians, oncologists, hematologists, nurses, counselors, social workers etc.

The main treatment of disease is chemotherapy. Sometimes, it is used along with radiation therapy. So, the treatment of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma involves both of the above-mentioned regimes.  Surgery is not usually done except for the biopsy.

This type of treatment of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma directly involves killing of the cancer cells from the body. the number of abnormal lymphocytes is reduced drastically.

The patient is usually given a certain number of cycles of chemotherapy which last for a few months. The treatment via chemotherapy is usually done intravenously. The liquid form of the drug is injected into the patient’s body over a period of few hours.

There are various side-effects associated with chemotherapy. These include: nausea/vomiting, breathlessness, bleeding, increase chances of infection etc.

The patient is informed of all the pros and cons beforehand so that he/she can make an informed decision consulting their families.

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