Hodgkin lymphoma

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Signs and symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma

A sign is something that can be observed and recognized by a doctor or healthcare professional (for example, a rash). A symptom is something that only the person experiencing it can feel and know (for example, pain or tiredness). The signs and symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) can also be caused by other health conditions. For example, swollen lymph nodes are common and can be caused by other health problems such as an infection or the flu. It is important to have any unusual symptoms checked by a doctor.

Signs and symptoms of HL are:

  • swollen (enlarged) lymph nodes – the most common symptom
    • These lymph nodes may be in the neck, above the collarbone, in the armpit or in the groin.
    • Swollen lymph nodes are usually painless.
    • Sometimes people will develop pain in areas of diseased lymph nodes after drinking alcohol.
  • itchy skin (pruritus)
  • unexplained fatigue
  • decreased appetite

Some of the symptoms of HL affect the whole body and are called generalized or systemic symptoms (B symptoms). The following are B symptoms:

  • unexplained fever over 38°C – may come and go over several days or weeks (called Pel-Ebstein fever)
  • drenching night sweats – so much sweat that nightwear or sheets are wet and may have to be changed
  • unexplained weight loss – loss of more than 10% of original body weight within the last 6 months

Signs and symptoms according to the location of disease

HL may show different signs and symptoms depending on where the affected lymph nodes or bone marrow is in the body.

  • chest
  • abdomen
    • abdominal discomfort
    • enlarged liver or spleen
    • jaundicejaundiceA condition in which the skin and whites of the eyes become yellow and urine is dark yellow.
  • groin
    • swelling of the feet and legs
  • bone
    • bone pain
    • fracture


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