In our bodies we have an immune system that fights infections and other diseases. The lymphatic system is also a part of the immune system. Hodgkin’s disease is a type of cancer of the lymphatic system. It begins in cells of the immune system. It happens when a lymphocyte (usually a B cell) becomes abnormal, called a Reed-Sternberg cell. The Reed-Sternberg cell divides and makes copies of itself. The division of the new cells continues, making a numerous amount of abnormal cells. The abnormal cells don't die when they should and they don't protect the body from infections or other diseases. The extra cells form a tumor. Doctors do not know why one person develops Hodgkin’s disease and others do not. But research shows that there are certain risk factors that increase the chance that a person will develop this disease. These risk factors include certain viruses such as EBV or HIV, a weak immune system, age, and family history. Hodgkin’s disease can cause many symptoms including: swollen lymph nodes (that do not hurt) in the neck, underarms, or groin, becoming more sensitive to the effects of alcohol or having painful lymph nodes after drinking alcohol, weight loss (for no known reason), fever (that does not go away), soaking night sweats, itchy skin, coughing, trouble breathing, or chest pain, and weakness or tiredness that don't go away. There are a number of exams and tests to diagnose Hodgkin’s disease. Some include physical exams, blood tests, chest x-rays, and a biopsy. A biopsy is the only sure way to diagnose Hodgkin’s lymphoma. An entire lymph node or part of a lymph node may be cut out. The pathologist uses a microscope to check the tissue for Hodgkin’s lymphoma cells. A person with Hodgkin’s disease usually has large, Reed-Sternberg cells. If Hodgkin’s disease is found, the pathologist reports the type. There are two major types of Hodgkin’s disease: Classical Hodgkin’s disease and...
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