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Treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma has become increasingly effective over the years. The type of treatment used for Hodgkin's depends on the information obtained by staging, and may include chemotherapy (treatment with a combination of drugs), and/or radiotherapy (treatment with radiation to kill cancer cells).
Both chemotherapy and radiation therapy have unfortunate side effects. Chemotherapy can result in nausea, vomiting,
hair loss, and increased susceptibility to infection. Radiation therapy can cause sore throat, difficulty in swallowing, diarrhea, and growth abnormalities in children. Both forms of treatment, especially in combination, can result in sterility (the permanent inability to have offspring), as well as heart and lung damage. A 2003 study showed a link between radiation therapy for Hodgkin's disease and increased risk for later breast cancer. However, adding chemotherapy to the regimen decreased the chance for breast cancer, perhaps by inducing premature menopause.
Hodgkin's is one of the most curable forms of cancer. Current treatments are quite effective, especially with early diagnosis. Children have a particularly high rate of cure from the disease, with about 75% still living cancer-free 20 years after their original diagnosis. Adults with the most severe form of the disease have about a 50% cure rate. In 2003, new research noted that even after complete remission, some patients showed signs of thyroid dysfunction, most likely from the immune problems caused by Hodgkin's disease. The researchers recommended thyroid examinations every year during follow-up of the disease.
While Hodgkin's disease cannot be prevented, researchers continue to study risk factors for the disease.
Dollinger, Malin, et al. Everyone's Guide to Cancer Therapy. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1997.
Freedman, Arnold S. and Lee M. Nadler. "Hodgkin's Disease." In Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, edited by Anthony S. Fauci, et al. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998.
Author Info: Paula Ford-Martin, Teresa G. Odle, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, 2005
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