Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Hodgkin's Lymphoma Treatment
Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital's cancer specialists are constantly learning about the new high-tech equipment and methods to treat and alleviate symptoms of Hodgkin's lymphoma. Our healthcare facility is properly equipped for the challenges of treating cancer of the lymphatic system and you can not expect less from our multidisciplinary team.
Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL) is a cancerous disease that starts by affecting the lymphatic system.
Cancer appears when cells start growing in an abnormal way. This can happen with cells from any part of the body. This type of invasion of the cells can spread to various areas of the body in a process called metastasis.
The lymphatic system is a network that connects nodes through vessels. The nodes act as filters and a clear liquid (lymph) flows through the vessels draining the waste products and fluids from the body. The whole lymphatic system functions in order to protect the body from infections and is a part of the immune system.
What happens with Hodgkin's lymphoma is that the lymphatic system’s cells start multiplying uncontrollably. The malignant cells resulted can spread and invade other tissues in the body.
Before deciding on a treatment, the factors around a specific case of Hodgkin's lymphoma will be taken into account. It is necessary to take into consideration who the patient is, what is their general health condition, what’s their age, their preferences on this matter. It’s also very important the type of Hodgkin's lymphoma and its stage.
It is also very important that the patients take their time to consult the healthcare providers about the possible side effect of various treatment options.
Depending on the type of HL, treatments can be:
In the first case, we have one area of the body that requires treatment. Local treatment in that area can be done by removing, controlling, or destroying the problematic cells. Radiation therapy is an example of local treatment.
Systemic treatment is a treatment performed not on one area, but on the whole lymphatic system and it’s needed when the malignant cells have traveled around the patient’s body. Examples of systemic treatments are immunotherapy and chemotherapy.
A bone marrow transplantation (or stem cell transplantation) can be another form of treatment. The transplantation of cells is done by either collecting the stem cells from the patient who suffers from lymphatic cancer, or by collecting them from a donor.
In deciding which form of treatment to opt for or how many types of treatment to combine, it’s essential to remember that the healthcare team is there for you for support in making the best choice.
There are two types of Hodgkin's lymphoma:
- Classic Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin's lymphoma
The most common HL, as the name suggests, is the classic form. Classic Hodgkin's lymphoma divides into four subtypes.
- Nodular sclerosis Hodgkin's lymphoma is the most frequently met subtype of classic HL. Nodular sclerosis can cause fibrous scars in the nodes of the lymphatic system and it can develop in the chest area and the neck. The category of people who are affected more often by this type of cancer are children and young adult women.
- Mixed cellularity Hodgkin's lymphoma is the subtype that usually affects older adults and is likely to develop in the abdominal area.
- Lymphocyte-rich Hodgkin's lymphoma and lymphocyte-depleted Hodgkin's lymphoma are the other two subtypes of classic HL which are less common.
Symptoms of Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Because Hodgkin's lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system, a common symptom can be the inflammation of the lymph nodes themselves. The swelling is usually not painful, but its presence persists.
The lymph nodes can be in some cases painful when drinking alcohol. Other common symptoms are weakness or tiredness, itchy skin, enlarged chest lymph nodes that cause pain in that area, difficulty breathing, or coughing.
Unexplained fever, weight loss, and abundant sweating during the night are also possible signs of lymphatic cancer. Due to the complexity of the diagnosis process and to the symptoms that may signal a different health problem, seeing a specialist is required.
Diagnosis of Hodgkin's Lymphoma
For a proper diagnosis, the patient’s health history is needed along with other physical examinations and imaging tests. The most certain way to find out if someone has Hodgkin's lymphoma is through a biopsy. This is a minor surgical procedure through which a sample of cells is collected from the swollen lymph node. The result of the biopsy will tell for sure if it’s HL, but further examinations are necessary after this.
The healthcare provider needs to know how to proceed depending on what type of HL it is, the stage of cancer, and the overall situation. The following tests might be necessary: blood tests, immunophenotyping, lung function tests, and bone marrow biopsy.
The exact causes for Hodgkin's lymphoma are not certain. But some of the factors that increase the chances of HL are known. More research needs to be conducted to complete the corpus of information that exists today about what triggers Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Risk factors don’t necessarily cause the disease, but they are factors that increase the likelihood of developing cancer. The profile of a person highly at risk of developing Hodgkin's lymphoma looks like this:
- the person is a man (gender factor) in his 20’s or 30’s, or older than age 65 (age factor)
- one or more members of his family have/had Hodgkin's lymphoma or Epstein-Barr virus infection (family health history is a factor)
- the person has an HIV infection in his health history or he has a medical condition that makes the immune system weaker
Alternative treatments don’t cure Hodgkin's lymphoma, but studies have shown that complementary treatments help patients cope with stress and symptoms. There are some treatments based on medicinal herbs like Echinacea or flaxseed. But remember to speak to your healthcare provider before adding alternative substances into the treatment plan to make sure they don’t interact negatively with the conventional treatment.
Massage and chiropractic care are two common alternative treatments used by people with Hodgkin's lymphoma to alleviate the pain and the tension in the body. Relaxing the body through massage can improve the quality of sleep, ease anxiety, stimulate blood circulation and the lymphatic system and help the patient temporarily detach from stress.
Regarding the prevention of Hodgkin's lymphoma, there are many risk factors that are not possible to control, like our gender or our family’s health history, but it’s important to know the factors that increase the risk in order to understand what we can avoid.
To prevent an HIV infection, which is a major risk factor of Hodgkin's lymphoma, avoid unprotected sexual intercourse with multiple partners.
Have a balanced lifestyle and see a doctor regularly especially if your family had to cope with this type of cancer before.