Physician: Bedwell’s illness treatable |

Physician: Bedwell’s illness treatable

Dave Moller

Nevada County Supervisor Drew Bedwell said Wednesday he must await test results to learn the extent and severity of his Hodgkin’s disease, which a local cancer specialist described as a rare but treatable illness.

“I won’t know how bad it is until the bone marrow thing is done,” Bedwell said, declining further comment on the ailment that has driven him to resign his elected post on the Board of Supervisors.

Dr. David Campbell, a cancer specialist at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital in Grass Valley, said Hodgkin’s disease is a cancer of the lymphatic system. The system distributes fluids and nutrients, fights disease and includes the lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils, adenoids, thymus and bone marrow.

Hodgkin’s disease is rated in one of four stages, determined by a bone marrow biopsy, Campbell said. Once a stage level is determined, a patient is treated with radiation, chemotherapy or both.

“The cure rate is high, 75 percent,” Campbell said.

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Hodgkin’s is diagnosed in about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cases per 100,000 people per year, Campbell said, even lower in western Nevada County.

“We’ve seen one a year for the past 10 years,” Campbell said, at a hospital that serves about 100,000 people. “The causes are unknown.”

Hodgkin’s disease is more common in those who are “well educated, with higher income and with good hygiene,” Campbell said, but no one knows why.

Bedwell, 64, said in a statement that his condition “demands immediate and aggressive medical treatment. To that end I have volunteered to participate in the Stanford clinical trials for Hodgkin’s disease, which will begin shortly.”

Stanford has four clinical trials going for Hodgkin’s disease, according to the Stanford Cancer Center Web site. The trials are done to test new cancer therapies on patients for research data and to allow them new or unique treatments.

The new Stanford Cancer Center opened in March and “is a well-known lymphoma research university,” Campbell said. “We commonly send people to Stanford for a second opinion.”

Campbell said Hodgkin’s disease often shows up as a swollen gland in the neck, groin or armpit. Other symptoms include unexplained fever, night sweats and fatigue.

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