Hotchkins Disease – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Hotchkin’s disease is a type of cancer which affects the lymphatic system, which in turn is a component of the immune system. Hotchkin’s disease is also known as Hodgkin’s lymphoma or Hodgkin’s disease.

There is abnormal growth of the cells occurring in the lymphatic system, in people affected by Hotchkin’s disease. Such cells may travel outside the lymphatic system. The progression of Hotchkin’s disease causes the immune system to become weaker and thus decreases the body’s capability to defend against infection.

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Hotchkin’s disease is one of the 2 common forms of cancers affecting the lymphatic system. Non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is second type, is more prevalent.

Individuals affected by Hotchkin’s disease have better chances of a complete recovery due to the advancements in diagnosis and treatment of the condition. There has been continuous and constant improvement in the prognosis of individuals with Hotchkin’s disease.

Symptoms of Hotchkins disease

Some of the signs and symptoms of Hotchkin’s disease are as follows:

  • Painless swelling of lymph nodes in your neck, armpits or groin
  • The lymph nodes occurring in the armpits, neck or groin experience swelling which is usually painless
  • Chills and fever
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Nighttime perspiration
  • Breathing problems, coughing or pain in the chest
  • Inexplicable or unintended loss of weight. Patients may lose ten percent or more of the total body weight
  • Appetite loss
  • Excessive sensitivity to alcohol effects or presence of pain in the lymph nodes post alcohol consumption
  • Itchiness

Types of Hotchkins disease

There are many different types of Hotchkin’s disease. The type is dependent on the kinds of cells that are involved in the condition and their respective behaviors. The type of Hotchkin’s disease also determines the choice of treatment.

  • Classical Hotchkin’s disease: It is the more common form of this condition. It can further classified into several subtypes. The lymph nodes of individuals affected by classical Hotchkin’s disease can be found to contain big, abnormal cells known as Reed-Sternberg cells. The various subtypes of classical Hotchkin’s disease are as follows:
    • Nodular sclerosis Hotchkin’s disease
    • Lymphocyte-depleted Hotchkin’s disease
    • Mixed cellularity Hotchkin’s disease
    • Lymphocyte-rich classical Hotchkin’s disease
    • Lymphocyte-predominant Hotchkin’s disease: It is a quite rare type of Hotchkin’s disease that is characterized by the occurrence of big, abnormal cells which are occasionally referred to as popcorn cells due to their appearance. Treatment of lymphocyte-predominant Hotchkin’s disease may differ from that of the classical variety. Individuals suffering from this kind of Hotchkin’s disease may have an enhanced probability of a cure when the condition is detected at an early stage.

Causes of Hotchkins disease

  • The exact causes of Hotchkin’s disease are still a subject of research. However, it is known that most cases of Hotchkin’s disease are caused due to the development of a mutation in the DNA of an infection fighting cell known as a “B cell.” The mutation informs the cells to rapidly divide and to continue thriving even when a healthy cell dies. Such mutation results in the collection of a large number of abnormal, oversized B cells in the lymphatic system, where they out-space the healthy cells, thereby leading to the signs and symptoms of Hotchkin’s disease.

Some of the risk factors that increase the vulnerability of an individual to developing Hotchkin’s disease are listed below:

  • A compromised immune system: The presence of a weakened immune system due to various causes like intake of medications to dilute an immune system response for facilitating an organ transplant, or suffering from HIV/AIDS, increases the risk.
  • The age: Individuals whose ages fall in the range of 15 to 35 years, in addition to those over 55 years of age are generally detected with Hotchkin’s disease.
  • The gender: Males are at a slightly greater risk to developing Hotchkin’s disease as compared to females
  • A family history of Hotchkin’s disease: The presence of Hotchkin’s disease or non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma within the immediate family, like a sister or brother, increases the risk.
  • History of infection with Epstein-Barr virus: Individuals with past infections of the Epstein-Barr virus, resulting in diseases like infectious mononucleosis, are at greater risk to developing Hotchkin’s disease as opposed to those who haven’t been infected by the virus.

Treatment of Hotchkins disease

The choice of treatment that is correct for eliminating Hotchkin’s disease is dependent on the stage and type of the condition, the patient’s preference and his/her overall health. The treatment is focused at destroying the maximum number of cancer cells and bringing about remission of the disease.

  • Chemotherapy: This is a process which involves the oral or intravenous administration of chemotherapy drugs, which are special drugs designed to kill the cancer cells. It can result in a number of side effects.
  • Radiation therapy: This treatment method involves the use of intense rays of radiation which are precisely directed at the cancer cells so as to destroy them. It is often done along with chemotherapy, to eliminate those cancer cells not destroyed via chemotherapy.
  • Stem cell transplant: This method involves replacement of the diseased bone marrow with healthy stem cells that aid the growth of new bone marrow. It is used as an option when Hotchkin’s disease comes back despite effective treatment.
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