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Constant itching was cancer
A woman scratched her legs for years without the pain on the skin easing. Then doctors found that she had a rare form of blood cancer.
Hodgkin lymphoma instead of skin infection
Jane Baldwin is 35 years old today. It has scars on the skin from scratching. In addition, she was permanently tired, so she fell asleep at work. Hodgkin's lymphoma was diagnosed very late.
Lymph nodes usually enlarge considerably in those affected. Not so with Baldwin. It wasn't until November 2016, when she saw a doctor about breathing difficulties, that the diagnosis came up: cancer.
Why was the diagnosis so late?
Doctors suspect this cancer when laboratory tests show that the C-reactive protein (CRP) increases and there is a lack of white blood cells. A lack of red cells in the blood and platelets are also indications, as well as a general anemia. However, itching on the skin is very non-specific.
How does Hodgin lymphoma manifest itself?
Hodgkin's lymphomas spread from the lymphocytes, which are white blood cells. Malignant lymphocytes then multiply uncontrollably and affect the lymphatic organs, i.e. the spleen and the lymph nodes. The cancer cells later spread throughout the body.
Specific and non-specific symptoms
90% of patients show swollen lymph nodes when diagnosed, on the neck, under the armpit and on the groin, in the chest and abdomen. In addition, there are non-specific symptoms such as fever, night sweats, weight loss, fatigue and said itching.
Advanced Hodgin lymphoma
With advanced disease, there are often disorders of the nervous system, a breakdown of the hormonal balance and a weakened immune system with the consequence of constant fungal and viral infections.
Swollen lymph nodes
Typical symptoms then appeared in February 2018: Jane's lymph nodes swelled.
Cancer continues - despite chemotherapy
Chemotherapy started in March. She was given the ABVD drug. At first the cancer seemed to be going down, but a scan in August showed the opposite. The cancer was in the lungs, ribs, spinal cord and lymph nodes. It had only decreased in some regions, but was progressing in others.
In the last stage?
In the first stage of the disease, the region of a single lymph node is affected, in the second stage there are two or more lymph node regions on one side of the diaphragm or several other foci. In the third stage, the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes on both sides of the diaphragm. In the fourth and final stage, as with Jane, several non-lymphatic organs are also affected.
Doctors consider Jane chemoresistant. However, she hopes for a new drug that works differently from those she was treated with: nivolumab.
What is Jane hoping for?
The sufferer hopes that the drug will push her cancer back so far that a stem cell transplant is possible.
The new drug is expensive and is not covered by health insurance. So she has to collect £ 50,000 for treatment. 15,600 donations were received in just one week. But that's still not enough and time is running out for the cancer patient. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)