Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 3bNS
That is a fairly simple grouping of letters and words. But they are much more complicated than that. Yes, that was my diagnosis, but it would also determine the treatment modes to use.
There are so many determining factors in how to fight this rare cancer. The cancer itself is rare enough, affecting just 1% of all cancer diagnosis. But when broken down…the decision on which treatments to use, and which side effects to risk, the individual characteristics will make the biggest impact working along side the body’s own physiological issues (height, weight, metabolism).
The obvious part of the equation, is figuring out Hodgkin’s. For me, it was seeing the Reed-Steinberg cells in the pathology from biopsies that were done. There are other diagnostics for claiming Hodgkin’s, but all involve B lymphocytes – a white blood cell meant to help the body dispose of garbage in our bodies (I have simplified the definition). Easiest way to think about it, your lymph system is what fights your illnesses. B lymphocytes help that process along.
Once the diagnosis is made, then the classification and stage needs to be determined.
There are four types of Hodgkin’s. Ranked in order of commonness, most common is Nodular Sclerosing, or as you saw in my grouping, NS. NS makes up about 75% of Hodgkin’s diagnosis, followed by lymphocyte predominant, mixed cellularity, and the least common, lymphocyte depleted which makes up only 5% of the diagnosis.
Staging is also important because not only do you need to know how aggressive the disease is, you need to know where it is located. With numbers ranking 1-4, with one being the least serious to 4 being the most serious, here are their definitions:
Stage 1 only one lymph node or area is involved
Stage 2 two or more nodes or areas located on the same side of the diaphragm
Stage 3 disease found in nodes on both sides of the diaphragm (even though the spleen is an organ, it is considered part of the lymph area.
Stage 4 other areas of the body involved (like lungs, liver, bone marrow)
I put Stage 3 in my title because that is what is says on my reports. But knowing that my spleen was fully involved, pretty much seals it that I was stage 4. But I have one more letter in my equation above, which really only serves to say it is bad, or worse.
A simple two letters are added, either “a” or “b”. Which means “with symptoms” or “without symptoms”. These particular symptoms that are being referred to are common, fever, night sweats, or significant weight loss.
Once the doctors have diagnosed, classified, and staged the Hodgkin’s, then it is time to determine the best mode of treatment.