Castleman or Castleman's disease is not a cancer but is a lymphoproliferative disorder involving an overgrowth (proliferation) of lymphatic cells. Castleman's disease affects the lymph nodes and may require treatment with surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Castleman's disease is also referred to as giant lymph node hyperplasia, or angiofollicular lymph node hyperplasia.
In this exclusive interview with Rare Disease Report, Dr Nikhil Munshi of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute talks about the common symptoms seen in these patients that eventually lead to a diagnosis.
There are two types of Castleman's Disease - Unicentric Castleman's disease and Multicentric Castleman's disease.
Unicentric Castleman's Disease
This localized form of the disease affecting a single lymph node -- usually in the chest or abdomen. People with Unicentric Castleman's disease often do not know they have the condition until it is found during screening or treatment for another illness.
Common symptoms may include: a feeling of fullness or pressure in the chest or abdomen, an enlarged lump under the skin in the neck, groin or armpit, fatigue, unintended weight loss, cough, and/or anemia. Treatment usually involves surgical removal of the growth.
Multicentric Castleman's Disease
This form of Castleman's disease affects multiple lymph nodes and lymphatic tissues.
Common signs and symptoms may include: fever, night sweats, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, unintended weight loss, weakness, fatigue, enlarged peripheral lymph nodes, enlarged liver or spleen, and/or peripheral neuropathy.
To differentiate Castleman's disease from lymphoma or other lymphatic disorders, a lymph node biopsy is necessary and a pathologist (or two) may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.