Is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma A Blood Cancer?
Hodgkin’s disease, also known as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is a type of cancer of lymph system. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a blood cancer. Our immune system comprises of lymph system as an essential component. It helps in fighting the germs and clearing the waste out of the blood. In Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the lymphocytes grow out of proportion and become diseased too.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a blood cancer. It is a highly treatable cancer if diagnosed in time and followed with a prompt and efficient treatment.
There are two categories of lymphomas. One is the Hodgkin’s lymphoma and the other one is non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma comes under the most commonly occurring types of cancer of lymphatic system. But, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is even more common.
Let us first understand the lymphatic system to understand the Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The lymphatic system is mainly made up of cells known as lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are white blood cells. Two main types of lymphocytes are there-
- B cells or B lymphocytes-these are mainly responsible for making proteins that are known as antibodies. These antibodies help to protect the body from different germs.
- T cells or T lymphocytes- there are many different types of T cells. Some are responsible for destroying the diseased cells while others are responsible to slow down or prompt the activity of other cells of the immune system.
B cells are the ones wherein Hodgkin’s lymphoma usually starts. Lymphocytes are present throughout the lymphatic system. Lymphatic system is present throughout the body. Hence, Hodgkin’s lymphoma can start almost anywhere in the body.
The major and primary sites, which are more prone to the start of Hodgkin’s lymphoma are-
- Lymphatic vessels
- Lymph nodes or lymph glands
- Bone marrow
- Tonsils and adenoids
- Digestive system.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma can start anywhere in the body however, it is seen most of the time starting in the lymph nodes. Hodgkin’s lymphoma usually spreads from lymph nodes to lymph nodes, through the lymphatic vessels. Sometimes, in later stages of the disease, it can spread to other distant parts of the body as well.
Types Of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
There are different types of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They need to be treated differently as they grow differently and also spread differently. Hence, it is most essential to determine the type of the lymphoma, before beginning the treatment, as the lymphoma type is likely to affect the course of treatment.
Classic Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- The most prevalent one in the developed countries is classic Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
- The cancer cells in this type are a particular type and are known as Reed-Sternberg cells. Their presence differentiates the Hodgkin’s lymphoma from the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
- These are an abnormal type of b cells.
As the lymph nodes get swollen in a lymphoma, a pathologist can spot less Reed-Sternberg cells and more normal immune cells in the enlarged lymph nodes, under the microscope. These normal immune cells in large number, are actually responsible for causing the swelling.
Classic Hodgkin’s lymphoma is known to have 4 subtypes-
- Nodular sclerosis Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Mixed cellularity Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Lymphocyte-rich Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Lymphocyte-depleted Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Treatment Of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are the main lines of treatment in Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The oncologist may need to implement one or both of these methods, depending upon the severity and the subtype of the disease. Also, immunotherapy and stem cell transplant are the other options for treatment. These treatments are used if other treatments fail or cannot be used due to some other reasons. Surgery is needed in rarest of the rare cases in treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The treatment, overall, depends largely on the stage the cancer has progressed to. Also, certain other factors, like age, general health, location of the cancer and other organs affected, can influence the line of treatment.