Hodgkin’s lymphomia is a cancer of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a part of the immune system. It is a series of tubes that carry lymph throughout the body. Lymph contains white blood cells called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are the body’s primary infection fighting security. They attack infectious organisms and abnormal cells inside the body. There are two subgroups of lymphocytes, which are commonly called B cells and T cells. B cells produce antibodies that attack infectious organisms that enter the immune system, and T cells attack these organisms directly. After destroying infectious organisms, T cells remember the chemical structure of the infection and prepare to attack it again if it comes back.
Hodgkin’s lymphomia transforms B and T cells by making them grow rapidly and uncontrollably. When the cells multiply, they gather in specific parts of the body known as lymph nodes. The cells continue to multiply and turn into what is called a tumor. The tumor pushes into the space of organs and tissues. Tumors deprive body parts of oxygen and nutrients, which cause abnormal tissue functioning. The damaged cells then move to other parts of the body and harm various tissues and organs.
Recently, doctors successfully tested a cancer drug that reduces the size of tumors. When the tumor is reduced, vital tissues and organs are free to receive oxygen and nutrients, ultimately giving the immune system the strength to destroy the effected cells.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the cancer drug nivolumab, from Bristol-Myers Squibb, significantly shrank tumors in 20 of 23 patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. What is extremely gratifying is that 4 of the patience had a total disappearance of the tumor.
Unfortunately, it is estimated that there will be close to 9,2000 new cases of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the United States this year. Out of that number, 1,200 patients may die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
It is not yet clear how long the effects of the drug will last. However, 86 percent of the patients treated with nivolumab experienced no recidivism of the disease for six months.