Hodgkin Lymphoma Symptoms

Male with swollen glands, a symptom of hodgkin lymphoma

Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system. It occurs in the B cells, which are white blood cells that produce special proteins (antibodies) that help the body fight off infection. In a person with Hodgkin lymphoma, the B cells undergo changes that cause them to grow abnormally and spread beyond the lymphatic system. Typically, this cancer originates in the lymph nodes of the chest, underarms, stomach or pelvis, but it’s common for it to spread to other lymph nodes, tissues and organs as well.

Are swollen lymph nodes an indicator of Hodgkin lymphoma?

Swollen lymph nodes are a common sign of Hodgkin lymphoma, and it’s reasonable to be concerned about the possibility of cancer if you’ve noticed an unusual lump in your neck, armpit or groin. However, it’s important to note that swollen lymph nodes are more commonly caused by minor infections. It’s always best to schedule an appointment with your physician if you’ve noticed a swollen lymph node so that he or she can identify the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment.

What does a rash from Hodgkin lymphoma look like?

While fairly uncommon for most Hodgkin lymphoma patients, skin irritation in the form of itchiness without a rash (pruritis) can be an indicator of the cancer in some individuals. This symptom may be a result of the immune system releasing chemicals called cytokines in response to the lymphoma. Cytokines irritate nerve endings, causing a persistent itch.

What are the other symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma?

Hodgkin lymphoma can cause a variety of symptoms, many of which can also be signs of other, less serious conditions. It’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor if any of these symptoms don’t resolve on their own after a few days:

  • Fever and chills
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Nausea, vomiting or stomach pain
  • Persistent coughing or shortness of breath
  • Pain behind the breast bone
  • Increased sensitivity to the effects of alcohol
  • Lymph node pain after alcohol consumption

Because Hodgkin lymphoma affects the immune system, the cancerous cells can crowd out healthy cells in the bone marrow and alter the body’s blood cell counts. For instance, if the cancerous cells destroy or inhibit the body’s production of red blood cells, anemia can develop. Likewise, low white blood cell counts can result in frequent infections, while low blood platelet counts can lead to easy bruising and bleeding.

Moffitt Cancer Center’s approach to Hodgkin lymphoma treatment

At Moffitt Cancer Center, the multispecialty team in our Malignant Hematology Program collaboratively evaluates each patient’s Hodgkin lymphoma symptoms and test results. After confirming a diagnosis, these experts will develop a highly individualized treatment plan and closely monitor the patient’s progress on an ongoing basis. In a single, convenient location, Moffitt’s patients have access to a full range of treatments and supportive care services, including innovative therapies offered through our robust clinical trials program.

If you have questions about Hodgkin lymphoma symptoms, you can connect with a cancer expert at Moffitt within a day. We have disrupted the traditional patient care model to provide patients with access to rapid care so that we can start treatment as soon as possible to achieve the best outcomes. To schedule an appointment, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online.