Elevated ESR (sed rate) after treatment for Hodgkin's Disease

Selina M. Luger, MD
Last Modified: February 10, 2002

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

My Mom's Hodgkin's Disease (stage 2) has been in remission for 16 years, after both radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Her recent blood test revealed a sed rate of 45.She was also diagnosed as diabetic a few months ago. Her oncologist has scheduled a full body CAT scan for next week. I understand that an elevated sed rate can signal the recurrence of Hodgkin's Disease. I recall her oncologist saying that there could be a chance later on of developing leukemia because of her treatments; what are the chances of this?

Thank you; I really appreciate your time and insight!  


Answer

Selina M. Luger, MD, Director of the Leukemia Program and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

An elevated ESR (sed rate) is nonspecific. The fact that your mother has been in remission for 16 years is a good sign in terms of her Hodgkin's disease, but it is not a bad idea to check with CAT scans. Leukemia, when it develops, usually happens within the first 10 years and usually other blood tests are abnormal. It sounds like her oncologist is being thorough.