Castleman Disease Overview
Castleman disease is a disease of immune system and lymph nodes. It is also known as angiofollicular lymph node hyperplasia and giant lymph node hyperplasia. It is characterized by overgrowth of lymphatic cells which is similar to lymphoma. The disease is believed to be associated with infection of a virus known as human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8).People with HIV are more likely to have this disease.
The way in which HHV-8 virus causes this disease is still being searched. It is believed that the virus causes defects in the functioning of immune system. As a result, immune system cells may grow rapidly, producing the protein interleukin-6 (IL-6) in excess. This protein causes overgrowth of lymphatic cells which ultimately leads to Castleman disease.
Types of Castleman disease
Castleman disease is differentiated into two types depending on the location of disease. When the disease is restricted to a single lymph node, it is termed as unicentric Castleman disease. The affected lymph node is usually located in the chest or abdomen. On the other hand, great damage is done to immune system when multiple lymph nodes and tissue are affected. This type is known as multicentric Castleman Syndrome and it may be accompanied by HIV-AIDS. However, both the types affect people differently.
Signs and Symptoms of Unicentric Castleman disease
In this type of disease, the affected lymph node is usually located in the abdomen or chest. If it is located in chest, it can cause breathing problems whereas the abdominal lymph node usually cause problem with food intake. A person experience feeling of fullness or pressure which poses difficulties with eating. As a result, the person may experience unintended weight loss accompanied by anemia. If lymph node is located at some other location, a lump is protruded at that site. Average age for the onset is 30 to 40 years. Generally, people having this type of disease are not infected with HHV-8 virus. Symptoms improve after the removal of affected lymph nodes.
Signs and Symptoms of Multicentric Castleman disease
Common symptoms associated with this disease are fever accompanied by fatigue, unintended weight loss and weakness. Gastrointestinal symptoms like loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting are common. Other disease specific symptoms are enlargement of the peripheral lymph nodes situated in neck, throat, underarms and groin areas. Liver and spleen may also get enlarged. This disease may lead to peripheral neuropathy which causes nerve damage. As a result, the person may experience numbness in limbs. This disease is usually observed in age group 50 to 60 years.
Multicentric disease is often life threatening especially when HIV AIDS infection is present. This disease may lead to lymphoma, other cancer, multiple organ failures or serious infection.
The catastrophe of Castleman Disease
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