Actor Michael C. Hall's Successful Treatment of Hodgkin's Disease

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

Actor Michael C. Hall, star of the television series Dexter, announced on Jan. 13, 2010, that he has undergone successful cancer treatment. The 38-year-old performer revealed in a statement that he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, sometimes referred to as Hodgkin's lymphoma, and is now in remission following treatment.

Hodgkin's disease is a relatively rare form of cancer that arises from cells of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of the body's immune system and contains a network of lymphatic vessels that course throughout the body as well as the organs important for immune protection, including the lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils, thymus, and bone marrow. Hodgkin's lymphoma accounts for only 1% of all cancers in the U.S.

Hodgkin's disease can start anywhere in the body, usually taking the form of painless, enlarged lymph nodes. From its origin, it tends to spread in a predictable fashion to adjacent groups of lymph nodes and can eventually spread throughout the body. Other symptoms that may be associated with Hodgkin's lymphoma are unexplained fevers, night sweats, and weight loss.

Doctors do not understand why Hodgkin's disease develops in some people. Men are more commonly affected than women, and two age groups (15-34 years of age and those over 55) are most often affected. Those with a family history of the condition have a greater risk, and studies have suggested that infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) may be related to its development, even though the vast majority of people who have been infected with EBV never develop Hodgkin's lymphoma.