Hodgkin's disease facts:
- The American Cancer Society estimates that about 7,350 new cases of Hodgkin's disease will be diagnosed in the United States this year. Hodgkin's disease affects women somewhat less often than men. Of those new cases, 3,370 will occur in women and 3,980 in men.
- Hodgkin's disease can occur in both children and adults. It is more common, though, in two age groups: early adulthood (age 15-40, usually 25-30) and late adulthood (after age 55). Hodgkin's disease is rare before 5 years of age. About 10 to 15 percent of cases are diagnosed in children 16 and younger.
- An estimated 1,400 people will die of Hodgkin's disease in the United States this year. Death rates have fallen by over 60 percent since the early 1970s because of better treatment.
Hodgkin's disease is a type of lymphoma. Lymphomas are cancers that develop in the lymphatic system, part of the body's immune system. The job of the lymphatic system is to help fight diseases and infection. In Hodgkin's disease, cells in the lymphatic system grow abnormally and can spread to other organs. As the disease progresses, the body is less able to fight infection.
The most common symptom of Hodgkin's disease is a painless swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm or groin. Other symptoms may include fevers, night sweats, tiredness, weight loss or itching skin. However, these symptoms are not sure signs of cancer. They may also be caused by many common illnesses, such as the flu or other infections. But it is important to see a doctor if any of these symptoms lasts longer than two weeks. Any illness should be diagnosed and treated as early as possible, and this is especially true of Hodgkin's disease.