Golden Globe winner Michael C. Hall has returned to work following diagnosis and treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. His wife told the Associated Press that he’s "fully recovered.”
The 39-year old actor is best known for the characters he played in “Dexter” and “Six Feet Under.” His cancer diagnosis became public in January 2010 when he appeared with a bald head at the Golden Globes awards where he won Best Actor in a TV Drama for portraying a serial killer in Dexter. Later he earned a similar honor at the Screen Actors Guild awards.
Like many cancer patients, Hall continued working during his treatment. So what exactly is this cancer, and what do most patients experience?
Hodgkin lymphoma is now considered to be one of the most curable forms of cancer. This is a blood cancer that attacks the lymph nodes. An estimated 8,510 cases of Hodgkin lymphoma are diagnosed in the U.S. annually according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), with the incidence slightly higher in males than in females. LLS says the five-year relative survival rate for patients with Hodgkin lymphoma has increased dramatically from 40 percent in whites from 1960 to 1963 to more than 86 percent for all races from 1999 to 2005.
Painless swelling of one or more lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin is a common early sign of Hodgkin lymphoma. However, enlarged lymph nodes may be the result of inflammation in the body and not necessarily a sign of cancer. Other signs and symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma may include recurrent high fever, persistent cough and shortness of breath, excessive sweating at night, itching and weight loss.
Cure is the goal of treatment for people who have Hodgkin lymphoma. Involved field radiation therapy with chemotherapy (sometimes called "combined modality therapy") is the most common treatment approach for Hodgkin lymphoma. Involved field radiation therapy targets the evident Hodgkin lymphoma cell masses, and chemotherapy is used to kill neighboring lymphoma cells.
In the U.S. in 2009, LLS said there were 148,461 people living with Hodgkin lymphoma (active disease or in remission). The growing survivor population has special needs for medical follow-up. Efforts are under way to provide information about survivors' risks for developing multiple primary cancers.
Subsequent cancers among Hodgkin lymphoma survivors have been well-studied because of the high long-term survival rates and the relatively young age at diagnosis for many with this disease. The information will help physicians and patients discuss the risks and any established prevention and screening guidelines.
For more information on treatment and supportive care, you can view, print or order the following free LLS booklets or visit leukemia-lymphoma.org/hm_lls
The Lymphoma Guide: Information for Patients and Caregivers