Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph system. It is diagnosed when a characteristic cell (the Reed-Sternberg cell) is present and identified under a microscope. Hodgkin’s lymphoma typically begins in the lymph nodes in one region of the body and then spreads through the lymph system in a predictable manner. It may spread outside the lymph system to other organs such as the lungs, liver, bone, and bone marrow.
Swedish researchers studied the risk of secondary cancers among 6,946 Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivors who had been treated in Sweden from 1965 to1995. Factors considered in the study included family history of cancer and age at diagnosis. Particular attention was paid to patients who had a first-degree relative (mother, father, or sibling) with cancer.
Results of the study revealed the following:
- Risk of developing a secondary cancer increased with the number of first-degree relatives who had cancer.
- Hodgkin’s survivors who had been treated at a young age and who had a positive family history of cancer had an even greater risk for developing secondary cancers.
These results indicate that Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivors, particularly those with a family history of cancer, may benefit from additional screening programs.
Reference: Andersson, A., Enblad, G., Tavelin, B., et al. Family history of cancer as a risk factor for second malignancies after Hodgkin’s lymphoma. British Cancer Journal [early online publication]. February 12, 2008.
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