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Hodgkins Disease

  • What is Hodgkin's Disease?

    Hodgkin's disease affects the lymph glands. These glands are in many different parts of the body and are important in helping to fight infection. It is for this reason that glands in children's necks are often swollen and painful as they are constantly fighting infections in the ears, nose and throat. This swelling goes down when the infection clears.

    Signs & Symptoms

    The first sign of Hodgkin's disease is usually a painless enlargement of one or a group of lymph glands that continues for weeks. The first glands to be affected are usually in the neck, most often on one side only. Sometimes enlarged glands can be felt in the armpits or groin. If glands in the chest are affected, this can cause a troublesome cough or breathlessness.

    Tests

    Hodgkin's disease is diagnosed by removing an affected lymph gland and examining it under the microscope. If this shows that the child has Hodgkins disease, then blood tests and x-rays are done to find out whether it has spread to other glands. A CT scan of the chest and abdomen will also usually be done to show exactly where the tumour is. If a blood test suggests the bone marrow is affected then a bone marrow aspiration may be done. A special nuclear medicine scan called a Gallium Scan may be required. (Refer to section on tests and procedures)

    Treatment

    Treatment is with chemotherapy. Radiotherapy is rarely given due to its long-term effects on growth and development.

    Follow up care

    Follow up care involves regular clinical examinations. After the first few years the focus of follow up changes to monitoring growth and development and other possible later side effects of treatment.