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Hodgkin's disease,a type of cancer of the lymphatic systemlymphatic system
, network of vessels carrying lymph, or tissue-cleansing fluid, from the tissues into the veins of the circulatory system. The lymphatic system functions along with the circulatory system in absorbing nutrients from the small intestines.
..... Click the link for more information. . First identified in 1832 in England by Thomas Hodgkin, it is a type of malignant lymphoma. Incidence peaks in young adults and the elderly. There is some evidence that it is caused by an infection (the Epstein-Barr virusEpstein-Barr virus
(EBV), herpesvirus that is the major cause of infectious mononucleosis and is associated with a number of cancers, particularly lymphomas in immunosuppressed persons, including persons with AIDS.
..... Click the link for more information. is sometimes present), and studies of twins suggest a hereditary susceptibility. In addition, exposure to the defoliant, Agent OrangeAgent Orange,
herbicide used by U.S. forces during the Vietnam War to expose enemy guerrilla forces in forested areas. Agent Orange contains varying amounts of dioxin. Exposure to the defoliant has been linked with chemical acne, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease,
..... Click the link for more information. , has been strongly linked to Hodgkin's disease and other lymphomas.
The first sign is often enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or armpit. Lymph node biopsy shows the multinucleated Reed-Sternberg cells peculiar to the disease. It spreads from node to node in an orderly fashion. Symptoms include itching, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. Because it affects the lymphatic system, the body becomes less able to fight off infection as the disease progresses. Radiation therapy and combinations of chemotherapeutic agents are used in treatment. By the 1990s most newly diagnosed cases were curable.