Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology
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Lymphoma - Hodgkin

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 5/2013
Symptoms and Signs

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ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. To see other pages in this guide, use the colored boxes on the right side of your screen, or click “Next” at the bottom.

People with Hodgkin lymphoma may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, people with Hodgkin lymphoma do not show any of these symptoms, or these symptoms may be caused by a medical condition that is not cancer. If you are concerned about a symptom or sign on this list, please talk with your doctor. Common symptoms associated with Hodgkin lymphoma include:

  • Painless swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin area that does not go away within a few weeks
  • Unexplained fever that does not go away
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Night sweats (usually drenching)
  • Pruritus (generalized itching that may be severe)
  • Fatigue
  • Pain in the lymph nodes associated with alcohol intake

If the lymph nodes in the chest are affected, they may press on the windpipe and cause shortness of breath, cough, or chest discomfort.

Your doctor will ask you questions about the symptoms you are experiencing to help find out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis. This may include how long you’ve been experiencing the symptom(s) and how often.

The doctor may also use certain symptoms to help describe the disease, in a process known as staging. Each stage may be subdivided into "A" and "B" categories.

A means that a person has not experienced B symptoms, listed below.

B means that a person has experienced the following symptoms:

  • Unexplained weight loss of more than 10% of original body weight during the six months before diagnosis
  • Unexplained fever, with temperatures above 38º C (100.4º F)
  • Drenching night sweats. Most patients say that either their nightclothes or the sheets on the bed are actually wet. Sometimes, heavy sweating occurs during the day.

If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms and side effects remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. This may also be called symptom management, palliative care, or supportive care. Be sure to talk with your health care team about symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

Choose “Next” (below, right) to continue reading this guide to learn about what tests and scans you may have to learn more about the cause of your symptoms. Or, use the colored boxes located on the right side of your screen to visit any section.

© 2005-2014 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). All rights reserved worldwide.

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