What are the signs and symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma (Hodgkin disease)?

Updated: Sep 12, 2018
  • Author: Bradley W Lash, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Answer

Features of Hodgkin lymphoma include the following:

  • Asymptomatic lymphadenopathy may be present (above the diaphragm in 80% of patients)

  • Constitutional symptoms (unexplained weight loss [>10% of total body weight] within the past 6 months, unexplained fever >38º C, or drenching night sweats) are present in 40% of patients; collectively, these are known as "B symptoms"

  • Intermittent fever is observed in approximately 35% of cases; infrequently, the classic Pel-Ebstein fever is observed (high fever for 1-2 wk, followed by an afebrile period of 1-2 wk)

  • Chest pain, cough, shortness of breath, or a combination of those may be present due to a large mediastinal mass or lung involvement; rarely, hemoptysis occurs

  • Pruritus may be present

  • Pain at sites of nodal disease, precipitated by drinking alcohol, occurs in fewer than 10% of patients but is specific for Hodgkin lymphoma

  • Back or bone pain may rarely occur

  • A family history is also helpful; in particular, nodular sclerosis Hodgkin lymphoma (NSHL) has a strong genetic component and has often previously been diagnosed in the family


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