Hodgkin lymphoma

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Symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma

The signs or symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) may vary depending on where it affects lymph nodes or bone marrow in the body. Other health conditions can cause the same symptoms as HL.

The most common symptom of HL is swollen lymph nodes. These lymph nodes may be in the neck, above the collarbone, in the armpit or in the groin. The swollen lymph nodes are usually painless, but sometimes areas of diseased lymph nodes will become painful after you drink alcohol.

Other signs and symptoms of HL include:

  • itchy skin
  • unexplained fatigue
  • less appetite
  • shortness of breath
  • cough
  • chest discomfort
  • wheezing
  • abdominal discomfort or pain
  • larger than normal, or enlarged, liver or spleen
  • jaundice
  • swollen feet and legs
  • back or bone pain
  • bone fracture

Some symptoms of HL are generalized, which means they affect the whole body. These are called B symptoms, or systemic symptoms. They are:

  • unexplained fever of 38°C or higher
  • drenching night sweats
  • unexplained weight loss of more than10% of body weight over the last 6 months

Sometimes HL can cause a serious problem called superior vena cava syndrome, which needs to be treated right away. This problem can occur if HL develops in lymph nodes in the area between the lungs in the chest (called the mediastinum). Find out more about superior vena cava syndrome.


A condition in which the skin and whites of the eyes become yellow and urine is dark yellow.

Jaundice may be caused by high levels of bilirubin (a substance formed when red blood cells break down) in the blood. It can also result from liver problems or a blocked bile duct.


The space in the chest between the lungs, breastbone and spine that contains the heart, great blood vessels, thymus, trachea (windpipe), esophagus and lymph nodes.


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