Eric Berry Has Hodgkins Lymphoma

As we reported last week, Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry, 25, was diagnosed with a mass in his chest. Berry had complained of chest discomfort at the end of the game against the Oakland Raiders. When the pain persisted the next day, and didn’t seem consistent with an orthopedic injury, an x-ray and MRI were performed, and the mass was found. Doctors were concerned that Berry may have a lymphoma, and was transferred to Emory Hospital in Atlanta to undergo testing to get a definitive diagnosis and begin treatment.

The testing is now over, and Berry has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Emory University lymphoma specialist Dr. Christopher Flowers released a statement saying:

“This is a diagnosis that is very treatable and potentially curable with standard chemotherapy approaches. The goal of Mr. Berry’s treatment is to cure his lymphoma and we are beginning that treatment now.”

Berry also released a statement through the KC Chiefs:

“My family and I are very grateful for the amount of support we have received over the last couple of weeks. I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate all the words of encouragement, the blessings and well wishes,” the statement read. “I want to thank the Emory University School of Medicine, along with Dr. Flowers and his team, for all of their hard work and effort in diagnosing and creating a plan for me to battle this thing.

“I will embrace this process and attack it the same way I do everything else in life. God has more than prepared me for it. For everyone sharing similar struggles, I’m praying for you and keep fighting!”

What is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

reed-sternberg cellHodgkin’s Disease, otherwise known as Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, is a cancer of the immune system, specifically lymph cells (lymphocytes) found in lymph nodes, spleen, liver and bone marrow. It is most common in two different age groups- 15-40 year-olds, and those over 55 years old. In Hodgkin’s Disease, lymphocytes are transformed into much larger cells called Reed-Sternberg cells, which have the ability to divide in an uncontrolled manner, thus spreading throughout the body.

Estimated new cases and deaths from Hodgkin lymphoma in the United States in 2014:

  • New cases: 9,190
  • Deaths: 1,180


lymphoma3Symptoms of Hodgkin’s Disease include:

  • painless swelling of the lymph nodes, especially in the neck, armpits, or groin
  • fever and chills
  • night sweats
  • weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • itchy skin

As in most other kinds of cancer, treatment and prognosis are related to “staging” of the disease.  What this means is how far along is the cancer? Is it localized to one area? Has it spread to local lymph nodes? Can it be found in other, more distance organs? For lymphoma in particular- are there tumor cells in the bone marrow. Treatment usually consists of chemotherapy, radiation therapy or both.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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