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Cancer Genetics

Concerning Hodgkin`s Disease

04/21/2000

Question:

In December, my son(at age 24) was diagnosed with Hodgskin`s Disease(4th stage). He went through aggressive chemotherapy for three months. Does this mean that it is a possibility that my daughter can get this disease also? There was a situation on the news a couple of weeks ago, when a 12 year girl was diagnosed with Hodgskin`s Disease at age eight, now she is in remission. Her brother now eight years old was diagnosed with Hodgskin`s Disease. Is this heredity? I also have a question regarding my son`s activities? The disease is now in remission. My son went back to smoking and drugs a couple of weeks after his chemotherapy was over. How would this effect his immune system? Is this more of a threat to his body since he did have cancer? Would this increase the chance for him to get lung cancer? I tried to talk to him about this, but I am Mom and he will not listen to me. I need some medical advice on how he should take care of himself. If you can`t help me, could you tell me who I can contact who can?

Answer:

Hodgkin`s disease occurs more commonly in men than and in women and occurs most often in individuals between ages 15-34 and in individuals over age 55. Hodgkin`s disease is NOT usually hereditary, but occurs as an isolated case in most families. It`s been estimated that about 4.5% of all cases of Hodgkin`s disease may represent familial Hodgkin`s disease. There have been some clusterings of Hodgkin`s disease, lymphocytic leukemia, and non-Hodgkin`s lymphoma in families. Researchers are currently attempting to collect families with two or more living family members with the above conditions in the hope that they will understand why some families have a clustering of these disorders as well as to better understand the risks to related family members.

If you are concerned about other family members developing Hodgkin`s disease, you can look for symptoms that may indicate the presence of Hodgkin`s disease including painless swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm or groin area; unexplained fever, night sweats, tiredness and weightloss. These symptoms are also commonly associated with other illnesses and infections and do not necessarily indicate the presence of cancer. If you or your family members have any of these symptoms they should have an evaluation by a physician. You should futher discuss your concerns with your doctor.

To answer your second set of questions:

Smoking causes over 80% of all lung cancers, as well as cancer of the larynx, mouth, esophagus, bladder, kidneys, and other organs. The longer a person smokes, and the more cigarettes smoked per day, increases their risk to develop lung cancer. If an individual stops smoking, their lung tissue will gradually repair the damage caused from smoking, although even after 10 years a former smoker is still at a higher risk to develop lung cancer than an individual who has never smoked.

Marijuana cigarettes may cause cancers of the throat, mouth and possibly of the lung. Unfortunately, I am unable to answer how smoking and/or drug use would affect your son`s immune system. We know that either activity is generally not good for your son`s health. However, you and your son should further discuss these issues with his physician.

Related Resources:

The American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute

For more information:

Go to the Cancer Genetics health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Beth  A Poling, MS Beth A Poling, MS
Cancer Genetics Counselor
College of Engineering
University of Cincinnati

Judith A Westman, MD Judith A Westman, MD
Associate Professor, Clinical Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Medical Biochemistry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University