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Wellstar Health System provides superior care for Hodgkin lymphoma, offering a comprehensive spectrum of top-notch physicians, treatment options and diagnostic tools. In addition, Wellstar offers such innovative advances in the fight against Hodgkin lymphoma, including:
Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, a key component of the immune system. The lymphatic system is made up of lymph nodes, or glands, which are located in various places throughout the body. Lymph nodes are in your neck, near your armpits and in your abdomen and groin. They are connected by small vessels called lymphatics. The lymphatic system also includes the thymus gland, spleen and bone marrow. Together, the different parts of the lymphatic system help the body fight disease.
There are two types of cancers that originate in the lymphatic system—Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Hodgkin lymphoma is the more rare of the two. While both are cancers of the lymphatic system, they differ in their pattern of spread through the body and in the aggressiveness of growth. Because of the differences, the symptoms and treatment can be different.
Hodgkin lymphoma is characterized by the presence of large cells that have the appearance of “owl eyes” which are called the Reed-Sternberg cells, can only be detected on biopsy read by a pathologist.
Wellstar supports scientific research that shows certain lifestyle choices can lower a person’s risk of some cancers, but in the vast majority of cases of Hodgkin lymphoma, there is very little a person can do to lower his or her risk.
No routine screening tests, such as mammography for breast cancer or colonoscopy for colorectal cancer, exist for Hodgkin lymphoma. Diagnosing Hodgkin lymphoma can sometimes be difficult because its symptoms mimic those of influenza and other illnesses. If your Wellstar physician has ruled out other illnesses and your fatigue continues and your lymph nodes appear to be enlarged, your physician may order other tests to determine if you have Hodgkin lymphoma. Those tests may include:
Hodgkin lymphoma can be difficult to diagnose by physical exam alone. Its symptoms—fatigue, fever, night sweats—mimic other illnesses much less serious in nature. If your symptoms have persisted longer than two weeks and if they do not respond to treatment, your Wellstar physician may want to conduct a variety of tests to determine whether you have Hodgkin lymphoma. The tests may include:
If Hodgkin lymphoma is diagnosed, your Wellstar physician will categorize it by the current stage. Each stage describes the progression of the disease and whether the it has spread to other parts of the body. You should talk to your Wellstar physician to understand each stage, and what it means for your treatment plan.
Once cancer has been detected, biopsied and “staged,” your Wellstar team of specialists in hematologic oncology, radiation oncology, radiology and pathology will work together to assess your best course of Hodgkin lymphoma treatment. This will include formulating a coordinated plan of personalized treatment consistent with the highest standards of care.
Your treatment will be tailored to your specific type of Hodgkin lymphoma, and it may involve radiation, chemotherapy, bone marrow or stem cell transplants, or a combination of these treatments.
Typically, surgery is not performed as the sole treatment in Hodgkin lymphoma patients because the standard of care is radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy is typically used for Hodgkin lymphoma patients whose disease has spread to other lymph nodes or to distant organs.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs given by mouth or injection to destroy cancer cells. It can be used to assist in the cure of cancer patients or to prolong life or the quality of life.
There are currently several protocols for treating Hodgkin lymphoma, and your Wellstar physician will base your treatment decision on your individual cancer type, stage, and your overall health. The most commonly used first line chemotherapy regimen is ABVD, which consists of doxorubicin (Adriamycin), bleomycin, vinblastine and dacarbazine.
Radiation therapy is used for Hodgkin lymphoma patients whose disease is limited to one area. Sometimes, chemotherapy may be used in conjunction with radiation therapy.
Wellstar offers standard radiation and cutting edge techniques. Wellstar radiation oncologists are highly trained at administrating the precise dose of radiation and targeting the radiation to the exact area needed, thus sparing nearby tissue, such as arteries, the chest wall and the heart, and minimizing the risk of late effects of radiation (side effects, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, or second cancers, that occur years later). You will want to discuss your treatment options with your Wellstar team.
If your cancer recurs after radiation and chemotherapy, your Wellstar physician may recommend a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. In these procedures, your own bone marrow or stem cells are used to help fight the cancer. They are removed from your body, then frozen and stored. Meanwhile, chemotherapy is used to kill the cancer cells remaining in your body. Then, your bone marrow or stem cells are returned to your body via injection.
You’ll be referred after your recovery from Hodgkin lymphoma to Wellstar’s medical oncology team for treatment, surveillance and survivorship programs. These comprehensive programs focus on diet, exercise and nutrition to help you reduce the risk of recurrence.
Cancer care at Wellstar is more than advanced technology, clinical research, and highly specialized physicians and nurses. It includes an array of supportive care services to improve the patient experience before, during and after treatment. All of these services are available within the Wellstar system, including:
Wellstar offers caring and compassionate hospice care for patients and their families in one of Georgia’s oldest hospice programs serving Bartow, Cherokee, Cobb, Douglas and Paulding counties. Our certified palliative care physicians and certified registered nurses are dedicated to providing compassionate, quality care in various settings, including home hospice, inpatient hospice nursing homes, assisted living facilities and nursing homes.