Castleman’s disease is a disorder that affects the lymph nodes of the body. It is characterized by an overgrowth of lymphatic cells. In most cases, the disease is characterized by a single, solid growth within lymphatic tissue in the chest, stomach, or neck. Growths may also occur in other lymphatic tissue throughout the body. Unicentric Castleman’s disease is confined to one lymph node, whereas multicentric Castleman’s disease involves multiple lymph nodes and is considered to be much more serious, even life-threatening.
Symptoms of Castleman’s disease includes an enlarged lymph node, a feeling of fullness in the abdomen, low-grade fever, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, anemia, nausea or vomiting and night sweats.
A diagnosis of Castleman’s disease is confirmed through a tissue biopsy. This is necessary to differentiate Castleman’s disease from lymphoma (blood cancer). Castleman’s disease can occur in anyone, male or female, adults and children. The average age of onset is in the thirties and forties.
The treatment of Castleman's disease is directed toward the specific symptoms that are apparent in each individual. Surgical removal (excision) of the growth is the preferred treatment in most cases of localized Castleman's disease. In some cases, ionizing radiation (radiotherapy) has proven effective. Corticosteriods have been used to treat specific symptoms that may be associated with certain types of this disorder.
For more information, read an educational article on the lymphatic system entitled Lymphatic System.