What are the symptoms of Hodgkin's lymphoma?
The symptoms in Hodgkin's lymphoma can be very variable and affect different parts of your body.
Swollen lymph glands (nodes)
The most common early symptom is for one or more swollen lymph glands to develop in one area of the body. The most common affected area is one side of the neck but other areas often first affected are the armpit and groin. The swollen lymph glands tend to be painless and gradually get bigger.
A symptom which occurs in about 1 in 10 cases is pain in the affected lymph glands after drinking alcohol. If the affected lymph nodes are in the chest or tummy (abdomen), you will not be aware of them swelling in the early stages of the disease.
The most common cause of swollen lymph glands is infection. For example, it is very common to develop swollen nodes in the neck during a bout of tonsillitis. Lymphoma is an uncommon cause of swollen lymph glands. However, a lymphoma may be suspected if lymph nodes remain swollen for more than a couple of weeks or so, or if there is no obvious infection to account for the swelling.
As a Hodgkin's lymphoma develops you may feel generally unwell. Various other symptoms may develop and these include:
- Fever and sweats (especially at night).
- Weight loss.
- Poor appetite.
- Looking pale and easily getting out of breath (anaemia).
- Itch all over the body.
If the lymphoma tumours become large and press on nearby parts of the body, various other symptoms can develop. For example, you may develop a cough or breathing problems if the tumour enlarges in the lymph nodes inside the chest.
Did you find this information useful?
- Hodgkin's lymphoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis treatment and follow-up; European Society for Medical Oncology (2014)
- Guideline on the Management of Primary Resistant and Relapsed Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma; British Committee for Standards in Haematology and the British Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation (2013)
- Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma - First Line Management; British Committee for Standards in Haematology (2014)
- Ansell SM; Hodgkin lymphoma: 2016 update on diagnosis, risk-stratification, and management. Am J Hematol. 2016 Jun 91(4):434-42. doi: 10.1002/ajh.24272.
- Gobbi PG, Ferreri AJ, Ponzoni M, et al; Hodgkin lymphoma. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2013 Feb 85(2):216-37. doi: 10.1016/j.critrevonc.2012.07.002. Epub 2012 Aug 4.
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