Michael C. Hall Battles Hodgkin's Lymphoma

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Dexter star and new Golden Globe winner Michael C. Hall publicly revealed a battle he has been facing for over a year – he has Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The 38-year-old actor and his wife Jennifer Carpenter kept the condition secret while he underwent treatment, but has noted that his disease is in remission and the prognosis is good.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a type of cancer originating from the white blood cells or lymphocytes. The disease, characterized by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells (RS), attacks the lymphatic system and can affect the body’s immune system and its ability to fight infection. The most common sign is a painless swelling in one or more of the lymph nodes of the neck, collarbone region, armpits, or groin. Other common symptoms are night sweats, unexplained weight loss, an enlargement of the spleen or liver, and non-specific lower back pain.

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The disease typically occurs in two peaks: one in young adulthood between ages 15 and 40 and a second in adults aged 55 and older. The cause is not known, but most typically occurs in males with a history of certain viruses, such as Epstein-Barr, mononucleosis, or HIV. The National Cancer Institute reports that the annual incidence of Hodgkin’s lymphoma is about one in 25,000 people and is most common in the United States, Canada, and northern Europe.

Survival rate for the disease is 90 percent or higher when diagnosed at an early stage, making it one of the most curable forms of cancer. Most patients respond to treatment and generally live normal life spans.
The “gold standard” for treatment of Hodgkin’s disease is the ABVD chemotherapy regimen which consists of four drugs: Adriamycin, bleomycin, vinbglastine, and dacarbazine. Treatment usually lasts between six and eight months.

While there is no proof that a positive attitude gives one a better chance of being cured, it does improve the quality of life during treatment and beyond, according to Mayo Clinic cancer specialist Timothy Moynihan MD. In his personal fight against cancer, Mr. Hall says he is staying positive and gaining a new perspective on the important things in life.

He also shows a great sense of humor, showing up at the Golden Globes ceremony with a black designed Japanese cap to cover his hairless head. “It’s nice to have an excuse for accessorizing.”

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